5-a-day fruit/vegetables is the minimum needed to avoid ill health – not the common cold, but ill health. We’re talking about health conditions like bowel cancer, heart disease, and stroke so it really is important to include 3+ vegetables and 1-2 fruit per day. And if you can, why not eat more than 5-a-day, like the 30 per week challenge – 30 different plant sources (vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, herbs, spices) per week.
Limit fruit to less than 2 pieces per day due to the sugar content, and some fruits are better than others. Tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, grapes) release their sugar more quickly than apples, pears, berries etc…and it’s the fibre which is the key – the more fibre the slower the release of sugar so eating the skin on fruit (e.g. apples, pear) is beneficial.
In terms of size 1-a-day = the size of a clenched fist (or 80g) e.g. an apple, an orange, 5 strawberries. You could include dried fruit but 30g of this is the equivalent to 80g portion and try to have this with other foods rather than a snack on its own as the sugars are very sweet and ideally no more than 1-2 times per week. You could also include 80g of beans or pulses as one of 5-a-day, they’re a good source of fibre but they don’t include quite as many vitamins and minerals as fruit/vegetables. We discuss 5-a-day in our Bitesize Basics webinar.
Day 2 of our #bitesizenutrition30 challenge is to add one more vegetable on your plate. You may notice:
• Feeling fuller for longer
• Reduced constipation
• Less snacking on sweet foods
• Better immunity
We all know vegetables are good for us – we know we need the fibre, but in the recent couple of years we’ve started to uncover a really interesting fact about fibre – it’s needed to feed the good bacteria in your gut!
So what you might say, but did you know most of your immune system is located in your gut so if you want improve your recovery from colds and support your immunity you need to give the good bacteria a hand by feeding them.
The fibre which feeds good bacteria is known a prebiotics, and luckily for us prebiotics are in a lot of the every day foods we eat: banana, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichoke, chicory. So including at least one of these foods daily – and ideally a couple of them, means you continue to support your immunity. Caution though, these foods can be bloating if you eat too much of them during a meal. You can find out more about prebiotics and probiotics in our day 26 article and also our Supporting Immunity webinar.
Fresh, frozen, tinned, juiced?
They’re all equally as good. If you can, eat some of the 5-a-day raw (e.g. raw carrot, celery, peppers) rather than cooking all fruit and vegetables. Also remembering to eat the skin on some of them so ideally eating orange segments rather than drinking some squeezed orange juice. If you’d like fruit juice limit this to 150mls per day – it’s natural but fruit still contains sugar.
Frozen fruit/vegetables are often cheaper then fresh and equivalent if not more nutritious with the nutrients being locked in at source where they are frozen. Tinned fruit/vegetables are just as good as fresh as long as they are in their own juice rather than syrup.
Read more in our day 21 article.
Do potatoes count?
Unfortunately, potatoes don’t count as part of 5-a-day, but they are a good source of energy and a good source of fibre if eaten with the skins on. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count towards 5-a-day.
If you’d like to find out more tips to improve your health check out our webinars and Bitesize Nutrition podcast. If you’re new to podcasts you can listen free without registration on your phone or PC by clicking on the podcast link in this paragraph or listen to Bitesize Nutrition on iTunes & Spotify.
Don’t forget to let us know what you think #nutritionchallenge30
- The information in this article is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice.
- The information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
- If you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet, and;
- Some supplements may interact with medications and you should check with your GP before commencing any supplement programme.