The UK Department of Health and the World Health Organisation recommend that we should be eating at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables every day in order to maintain good health.
If you don’t already eat plenty of fruit and vegetables then try adding an extra portion a day and gradually increase your intake over a period of time. An adult portion is 80g (3oz) or a handful. Try to aim for about three vegetable portions and two fruit portions every day.
Here are 10 ways to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet:
- Breakfast cereals – if you like to start your day with a bowl of cereal swap your sprinkling of sugar for a handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) or sliced banana. Alternatively, add a tablespoon or two of dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins or apricots.
- Cooked breakfast extras – if you prefer a cooked breakfast in the morning add a generous portion of grilled tomatoes and mushrooms for a healthy start to the day. Tomato sauce doesn’t count!
- Feeling a bit peckish and want a snack? – opt for yoghurt with added fruit, a small fruit smoothie, a small handful of nuts with dried fruit or simply a piece of fruit. If you’re after something more substantial, try baked beans on toast or hummus (made from chickpeas) on crackers or as a dip with raw vegetable sticks.
- Salads – don’t have to be boring and can easily be made into a balanced meal. Simply choose a cereal bowl size of three or more salad items, add a protein source (e.g. lean chicken, oily fish such as mackerel or salmon, boiled eggs or chickpeas) and a portion of starchy food (pasta, rice, noodles or potatoes). Jazz it up with a healthy dressing.
- Stir fries – almost any vegetable can be added to a stir fry, including peppers, mushrooms, mangetout, baby corn, cabbage, spring onions and carrots. Stir fry vegetables in your favourite sauce and serve with rice or noodles to make a tasty meal.
- Beans and lentils – yes, even baked beans count towards your five a day; however beans and lentils only count as one portion no matter how much you consume. A portion is 3 tablespoons of any beans (e.g. butter beans, kidney beans, broad beans, edamame beans, split mung beans), lentils (e.g. red lentils, green lentils) or peas (e.g. chickpeas).
- Bulk out minced beef dishes – such as spaghetti bolognese, chilli, shepherd’s pie, and other similar dishes can be bulked out using finely chopped onion, grated carrots, chopped mushrooms and a handful of lentils. As well as adding to your five a day it makes your dish go further and saves you money.
- Casseroles, curries, stews and hotpots – are another tasty way to include vegetable portions to your diet. Add extra vegetables to these dishes, aiming to use at least three different types. Choose vegetables such as carrots, leeks, swede, turnips, or squash.
- Fruit juice – a small glass (150ml) of juice, such as orange, apple, or grape juice, counts as one portion of your five a day. Make sure that the drink is 100% fruit juice, rather than a ‘juice drink’ or squash.
- Soups and smoothies – make your own smoothie at home by adding 2 handfuls of soft fruit to a glass of milk, fruit juice or yoghurt and blend until smooth. Don’t throw away leftover vegetables – turn it into a soup for an easy healthy meal.