“Have you eaten your five a day?”
It’s an expression used by hearing people a lot, but what does it mean?
It means you should be eating 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. Not five pieces of fruit and then five vegetables, but five altogether.
For example, on Monday maybe you will eat 2 bananas, 1 carrot, 1 big bit of of broccoli and 1 apple. On Tuesday, maybe you will eat 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 avacado, 1 leek and 1 tomato. It can vary.
Why have the NHS said we should eat five pieces of fruit and vegetable a day?
- Fruit and vegetables are really good for you. They are full of vitamins and minerals that help the body stay healthy. If you cut a piece of fruit or a vegetable in half, you can’t see a vitamin or mineral, but they are there.
- When you swallow food, it moves through your body. It goes through your stomach and intestines. All the good parts of your food stay inside you. The rest leaves your body as faeces/poo. This process is called digestion. Fruit and vegetables are good for you because they have something called ‘fibre’ in them. Fibre helps the digestion process, it helps keep the inside of your body healthy and stops constipation (makes going for a poo easier). Fibre also lowers the risk of bowel cancer.
- Fruit and vegetables can also help lower the risk of other types of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Fruit portion size
Approximately 8Og of fruit equals one of your ‘five a day’. The list below tells you how much 8Og of fruit is.
- 1/2 a grapefruit
- 1 large slice of melon
- 1 large slice of pineapple
- 1 apple
- 1 orange
- 1 banana
- 1 pear
- 2 plums
- 2 satsumas
- 2 kiwi fruit
- 3 apricots
- 7 strawberries
- 14 cherries
If you eat dried fruit, you only need to eat 30g. The list below tells you how much 30g of fruit is.
- 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins, currants or sultanas
- 1 tablespoon of mixed fruit
- 2 figs
- 3 prunes
- 1 handful of dried banana chips
Vegetable portion size
The list below tells you how much 8Og of fruit is.
- 1 tomato (or 7 cherry tomatoes)
- 2 big bits of broccoli
- 3 sticks of celery
- 4 heaped tablespoons of cooked kale, spinach, spring greens or green beans
- 5cm long piece of cucumber
- 3 heaped spoonfuls of cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn
- 8 small bits of cauliflower
Pulses and Beans can be included as one of your ‘five a day’. But, only eat a maximum of one portion a day.
- 3 heaped tablespoons of baked beans
- 3 heaped tablespoons of haricot beans
- 3 heaped tablespoons of kidney beans
- 3 heaped tablespoons of cannellini beans
- 3 heaped tablespoons of butter beans or chickpeas
Juice and Smoothies can be included as one of your ‘five a day’ but they must not include added sugars. Added sugars are bad for your teeth. The list below explains what you can have.
- 150ml of unsweetened juice (fruit juice or vegetable juice). But only 150ml a day. More fruit or vegetable juice won’t count as one of your ‘five a day’.
- 150ml of smoothie or more is okay if a minimum of 8Og is whole fruit/vegetable and any added juice is 100% pure.
It doesn’t matter which fruit and veg you eat, it can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried.
Potatoes and cassava are not allowed to be included in your ‘five a day’ because they have something in them called starch. Starch is healthy and safe to eat, but in small amounts.
If you want ideas of how to eat more healthily, watch Punk Chef on BSL Zone. Punk Chef is a TV programme for the Deaf community. Punk Chef gives tips and ideas in BSL about how to eat more healthily, and he gives you recipes to try.
Image Credit: Rick Ligthelm