Vegetables and fruit are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They’re high in fibre and packed full of vitamins and minerals. Different-coloured veg and fruit contain different vitamins and minerals, which each play a part in keeping our bodies healthy, so it’s essential to eat the rainbow, embracing a variety every day.
Aim for at least five portions of different vegetables and fruit every day – roughly a large handful or 80g of each. Experiment with different cooking methods and boost flavour with herbs, spices and citrus. Vegetables and fruit should make up over a third of our diet.
• 80g or a large handful of raw, frozen, tinned or cooked vegetables or fruit all count.
• Frozen fruit is great as it’s picked and frozen at its most nutritious and most flavourful.
• Tinned veg and fruit count too – opt for no-added-salt/sugar versions.
• 30g of dried fruit can only ever count as one portion of your 5-a-day, no matter how much you eat: it contains fibre but lacks most of the vitamins of fresh fruit, and the sugar content is more concentrated.
• 150ml of fruit juice or smoothies can only count as one portion per day, no matter how much you drink, because sugar is released from fruit when it’s blended, becoming a free sugar, and this can damage our teeth. Try to limit to one 150ml unsweetened serving of fruit juice or smoothie daily.
• 80g of beans and pulses or 3 heaped tablespoons counts as one of your 5-a-day. Lentils, chickpeas or beans can all count, but only once, no matter how many you have.
• Potatoes don’t count – this is because they are classified in the starchy carbohydrates food group as well as yams, cassava and plantain. However, sweet potatoes do count as one of your 5-a-day.
Vegetables and fruit naturally grow in cycles and ripen at different times of the year.
When in season, they taste amazing and are at their nutritional peak. Check a seasonal chart before you go shopping (eattheseasons.co.uk).
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