It's been drummed into us from a young age; adequate fruit and vegetable consumption form one of the pillars of any healthy eating pattern. It’s all well and good being told this, but achieving 5-a-day (minimum) can be made especially difficult if we aren't even aware of how much “a portion” is.
Here are some examples:
• One banana, orange, pear or apple or a similar sized fruit • Half a grapefruit or avocado • A slice of large fruit such as melon or pineapple • Two small oranges, plums or similar sized fruit • A handful of grapes • Two handfuls of blueberries or raspberries • One heaped tablespoon of dried fruit, such as sultanas, currants or cranberries.
• Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned) • Three heaped tablespoons of any ‘pulse’ – beans, peas or lentils (however much you eat, pulses only count as one of your five-a-day) • One cereal bowl of lettuce, watercress or spinach.
Current evidence shows us that regularly consuming the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may help to reduce the risks of heart disease and strokes by up to 30% and some cancers by up to 20%.
Be sure to include as wide a variety as possible to take advantage of a diverse array of nutrients, phytochemicals and fibre, which will help to promote gut health and to protect against free-radical damage caused by harmful foods and environmental factors.