Cheap, easy ways to get your five a day and ward off cancer

Despite the best intentions, shockingly few people in the UK are eating the recommended five fruit and veg a day. Though these foods have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of cancer, it’s still tricky for four out of five of us.

A portion counts as 80g and can be from fresh, frozen, tinned or dried fruits. Unfortunately, potatoes and other starchy vegetables don’t count.

If you’re failing to get your five a day, try our easy ways to get guzzling without even realising it.

1. Add a portion to breakfast.

If you eat cereal or porridge for breakfast this is easy as all you need to do is add a handful of fruit to your bowl in the morning. If you’re short on time, the easiest are dried or pre-prepared fruits, such as raisins or tinned peach slices. If you need more inspiration for the most important meal of the day, try our energizing super-breakfast ideas, which all contain at least one portion.

2. ‘Ave a banana

Portable, cheap and easy to eat, a mid-morning banana is the quickest way to up your fruit intake. Buy a bunch at the weekend and keep them on your desk to remind you every day. They’re also perfect for when your energy levels are dipping.

[Related article: Are you eating enough of this super fruit that prevents cancer?]

3. Sneaky sandwich additions

If you’re a sandwich addict, why not make the most of your lunchtime treat by adding a little greenery. Just 6cm of cucumber or a handful of lettuce counts as a portion and will make your cheese sarnie extra tasty.

4. Drink one

It doesn’t have to be an expensive smoothie to count - concentrated fruit juices such as orange and apple are included in the five a day and can be glugged on the move or at your desk. Buy a multipack of mini cartons (like you used to have at school) and put one in your bag each morning. For a more professional alternative, keep a handbag-sized smoothie or juice bottle on you.

5. Hide it in your dinner

If you’re cooking a homemade dinner, add an extra vegetable to the mix. For example, try adding a couple of grated carrots to spaghetti bolognaise, a handful of peas to mashed potato or an extra pepper to your stir fry. If you tend to opt for pre-made food, look for options that have one or two vegetables in them already so you don’t have to worry about it. An easy middle ground is to add a portion of veg to pre-made meals such as pizza.

The World Cancer Research Fund, which commissioned the study, is using Cancer Prevention Week to encourage people to make the effort to eat just one more piece of fruit or veg a day. It might take a few more minutes, but if it helps prevent cancer in the future, it’s certainly worth it.

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