Five a day: Are you getting yours?

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle15 November 2012

We all know we should be eating five portions of fruit and veg a day to stay in good health, but it seems most of us are either failing to achieve this - or have strange ideas about what fruits and vegetables actually count.

Chips, for example, do not count. Though, according to a new survey by Sainsburys, almost a quarter of Brits believe they do. And a further quarter also suggested eating five of the same fruit or veg meets daily recommendations.

But all the promotion around the five-a-day campaign hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. The vast majority of us (85 per cent) know that we really should be eating a good mix of fruit and veg daily, and why.  But in practice 70 per cent of us just don’t manage it.

[Related: Five cheap, easy ways to get your five a day]

The survey also revealed that a third of parents are so concerned their kids eat enough, they forget about their own tally. Other excuses included not having time to wolf down five portions of fruits and veg every single day and that these foods are just too expensive.

To help us (and hopefully to make us feel less guilty when our total number’s a measly one or two), the Government has launched the ‘Responsibility Deal’ calling on food producers to make it clear when pre-packaged food contains one or more portions that count towards the five-a-day and to provide a wider range of healthy options for consumers.

And to clear things up, here is the Government advice on what counts towards five-a-day:

• Fresh fruit and vegetables.
• Frozen fruit and vegetables.
• Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables. Buy the ones tinned in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
• Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs.
• Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes.
• A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100 per cent fruit or vegetable juice. Juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. That's mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables.
• A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion but this depends on how it's made. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day.
• Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That's because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.
• Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts. You can find the salt, sugar and fat content of ready-made foods on the label.

Tell us your fruit and veg number on Twitter.

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