The Welsh Government published a revised version of a study conducted by the Food Standards agency (Originally published in 2013) in 2017 with findings stating that 78% of adults between the ages 18-65, 77% of adults aged 65 and over and 94% of children aged 11-18 years of age did not meet the 5 a day recommendation of fruit and vegetable consumption per day. And the Health Survey for England has published their findings on consumption of fruit and vegetables of adults and children in England. They found only 29% of adults and 18% of children aged 5-15 ate their 5 portions. This highlights the extremely low consumption of our fruit and vegetables in both Wales and England.
The UK’s ‘five-a-day’ guidelines were developed based on a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that consuming 400g of fruit and vegetables per day can reduce risks of chronic diseases, e.g. heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. The guidelines state that everyone should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. The advice is that children should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
So, what counts as for your five a day, I hear you say?
1) 80g of fresh, tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables count as one portion. However, be careful with tinned as these will have higher sugar/salt content!
2) 30g of dried fruit count as one portion.
3) 80g of beans and pulses count as one portion.
4) 150ml fruit, vegetable juice or smoothie. (Be careful of sugar content. Juices and smoothies are higher in sugar and contain less vitamins and nutrients once the fruit/vegetable is blended).
If you feel you are not consuming enough fruit and vegetables, here are a few helpful tips on how to consume more daily.
1) Add fruit to your cereal, porridge or yogurt. Banana’s, apples and berries are great with these.
2) Why not add grilled (or lightly fried) mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach to your scrambled egg on toast?
3) Add salad such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers into your lunchtime sandwich.
4) Why not try a vegetable soup for lunch?
5) Chop up your favourite vegetables into sticks to dip into hummus, cottage cheese or tzatziki as a snack.
6) Make a fruit salad and store in your fridge. You are more likely to fancy some fruit if you see it all chopped and looking beautifully prepared in your fridge when you open the door.
7) The obvious! Having a side dish of vegetables or salad with your main meal e.g. peas or broccoli with Sheppard’s pie or a with some salmon or roast dinner. (Remember you will have a portion of veg in your Sheppard’s pie if you use carrots and onions in the recipe).
8) Choosing a tomato based sauce for a meal rather than creamy or cheesy sauces.
9) Add vegetables to your pizza e.g. sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms and to your favourite burger.
10) Add beans or lentils to soups and stews.