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Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are a good source of fibre, are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and a variety of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant substances) and antioxidants that are vital for health.

Studies have shown that eating a wide variety of fruit and veg, and aiming for a minimum of 5 portions each day, can help to reduce your risk of developing many health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and certain cancers. An additional benefit of eating fruit and vegetables is that they are naturally low in calories and high in fibre, meaning they can help to maintain a healthy weight.

How much fruit and veg do I need each day?

Aim for at least 5 x 80g portions of fruit and vegetables each day (meaning a daily total of at least 400g). Fresh, frozen and dried fruit, canned fruit in juice, and canned vegetables in water (with no added sugar or salt) all count towards this.

 Some foods and drinks can only be counted as 1 of your 5-a-day, even if you have more than 1 portion. For example:

  • 150ml fruit juice (as the juicing process removes most of the fibre from the fruit)
  • 80g beans and pulses (as although a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than other fruit and vegetables)

What does 1 portion of fruit and veg look like?

slices of apple

1 medium apple, orange or pear

banana

1 small banana

blackberries

8 large blackberries

grapes

15 small grapes

1 small peach

kiwi sliced

2 kiwis, plums or satsumas

pineapple rings

2 rings of tinned pineapple

raisins

1 small box of raisins

broccoli

2 large broccoli florets

cucumber

Quarter of a cucumber

carrot sticks

1 medium carrot

cherry tomatoes on the vine 

8 cherry tomatoes

sweetcorn

3 heaped tablespoons of sweetcorn or peas

salad leaves

1 cereal bowl of mixed salad leaves

vegetable soup

1 bowl of vegetable soup

1 medium avocado

I have diabetes... can I still eat fruit?!

Although fruit contains natural sugar, having diabetes does not mean that you should stop eating it. If you are distributing your intake evenly across the day and eating the recommended portion sizes, it is very unlikely for fruit to be contributing to elevated blood glucose levels.

How can I reach 5 portions of fruit and veg per day?

Breakfast

Include a 150ml glass of kale juice

blueberries

Add fruit to your cereal

sliced mushrooms

Add grilled mushrooms or tomatoes to scrambled eggs

Lunch

vegetable soup

Have a bowl of vegetable soup (homemade or tinned)

lambs lettuce salad leaves

Add extra salad to your sandwich

cauliflower rice

Swap normal rice for cauliflower rice

Evening meal

yellow pepper

Add extra vegetables to a pizza: 3-4 tablespoons sliced mushrooms, half a pepper and/or 2 pineapple rings

green beans

Ensure half your plate is filled with at least 2 types of vegetables or mixed salad

strawberries

Opt for fruit as a dessert with light yogurt

Snack

satsuma slices

Easy options include a pear, apple, plum or satsuma

celery, cucumber and carrot sticks with houmous

A little more preparation for celery, cucumber and carrot sticks with low fat houmous

butter bean dip and celery

Whizz up a butter bean dip and serve with celery for 2 of your 5-a-day

How can I keep the cost down?

  • Choose dried, frozen and canned options, selecting supermarket own brands
  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season
  • Avoid wastage by buying fresh fruit and vegetables in varying degrees of ripeness, so that some ripen earlier and some later (placing fruit in a bowl causes them to ripen quicker)
  • Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged so you just buy what you need
  • Shop at local markets, which are often cheaper than supermarkets
  • Don’t throw away vegetables that are about to go out of date - put in soups, stews or casseroles and freeze

 

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