Get your five a day

We all know it is good for us, but most of us struggle to fit it in. So what is the easy way to get enough fruit and veg in our diets?

WHAT COUNTS?

It isn’t just fresh fruit and veg that make up your daily portions, you can also use frozen, canned and dried varieties. Unsweetened fruit juice made from 100 per cent fruit contains a portion in every 150-millilitre glass. Even veg-based ready meals and pasta sauces will contain portions (check the packaging) but their high salt content may be damaging. Pulses and beans count as one portion no matter how many you eat.

WHAT DOESN’T COUNT

Potatoes, sadly, don’t count in your five-a-day. They are a veg, but are classified as a starchy food. Don’t cut them from your diet, though, as they are packed with carbs for fuelling your muscles, plus fibre, vitamins and potassium. Same with yams and plantains, although neither appear on menus as regularly as spuds.

PORTION SIZE

One portion of fruit or veg is roughly the amount you can fit in the palm of your hand, so one apple, pear, orange or banana, two plums, satsumas or Kiwi fruits, seven strawberries or about 14 cherries. A portion of dried fruit is roughly 30 grams. Veg is a bit different as veges tend to be cooked before consumption, which can drain some of the goodness. Three heaped tablespoons will generally do it for cooked stuff, or, for salads, three sticks of celery, five centimetres of cucumber or seven cherry tomatoes.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Most studies that have been conducted on eating fruit and veg say that if you get your portions in you lower your risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and even blindness. The benefit to runners in particular is that fruit and veg are packed with nutrients, healthy carbs, electrolytes and immune boosters; everything designed to keep you running for longer.

SNEAKY PORTIONS

Sometimes eating a piece of fruit or veg isn’t quite what you fancy. Have beans or a mashed banana on toast, add berries to your cereal or grate carrots into a bolognaise sauce. Bringing a couple of small packets of raisins to work to snack on will give you another portion. Top your pizzas or stir fries with vegetables. Be inventive and you will soon have your five a day under control.

Get your five a day
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