Who saw the news story that was splashed all over the media about how 10-a-day is the new 5-a-day?

A study by the Imperial College of London (results published in the International Journal of Epidemiology) looked at more than 350 studies from around the world that investigated the impact of fruit and veg consumption on a range of health issues, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and premature death. They compared eating 2 portions per day (200g, the average amount Brits are eating now) with 10 portions (800g) and found that:

  • 200g only cut the risk of heart disease by 13%, whilst 800g cut the risk by 28%
  • 200g only cut the risk of cancer by 4%, compared to 800g reducing the risk by 13%
  • 200g only cut the risk of premature death by 15%, whilst 800g cut the risk by 13%

Health scientists originally recommended that the British aim to have between 7-9 portions of fruit and veg per day, but in the end, five portions of fruit and veg a day were chosen by the Department of Health. Although it was recognised we needed more, 5 portions were considered an achievable target for most people. Only having 5 portions of fruit and veg will provide you with the bare minimum health benefits of keeping diseases away, but will not help you substantially reduce the risk of disease.

Britain has one of the lowest targets for fruit and veg than many other countries. Check this out:

  • Denmark recommends 6 portions
  • France recommends 10
  • Canadians are urged to aim for 5-10 portions
  • Japan is the top though, with 13 portions of vegetables per day plus 4 portions of fruit!

We want to challenge you to see if you can take on 10 portions of fruit and veg per day so we have put together our top tips to help you out:

  • Get your veggies in at breakfast – either make up a green smoothie (we’ve got 19 for you here) or why not treat yourself to an English brekkie but include wilted spinach, grilled tomatoes, or
    mushrooms on the side.
  • Other breakfast ideas include fresh berries on your cereal, mashed banana on peanut butter toast with sprinkled cinnamon, or mashed avocado on toast.
  • Have fruit as a mid-morning snack but pair it with protein so you don’t get a spike in blood sugar levels. A good example is apple slices dipped in nut butter.
  • Heard of Meat Free Monday? It’s a popular trend on social media so why not implement it yourself? Challenging yourself to one or two meat-free days a week can force you to get creative and up your veggie intake.
  • Aim to have half your plate at mealtimes should be composed of fresh veggies. Keep these vegetables colourful as well so you eat a variety (mix up green veggies with yellow veggies) – literally eat the rainbow!
  • Another way to sneak in veggies and to have a healthy snack can be dips and crudities – for example, hummus and carrot sticks, celery and almond butter, guacamole and cucumber sticks.
  • Soups and stews are a great way to use up loads of vegetables (find some great recipes here).
  • Remember that beans and lentils also count as a vegetable and towards your 10 a day.
  • Stir-fries are a brilliantly versatile option for getting the veggies in – you can get as much as 5-6 portions of veggies in one go!
  • Normal white potatoes don’t count as a portion so swap them for sweet potato, parsnips or celeriac that do count.
  • The latest health trend is using vegetables as cupboard staple alternatives – for example, using cauliflower as rice, or courgetti (courgette spiralised as spaghetti), so why not get creative and try this out?
  • Frozen and canned fruit and veg count (if it’s not fruit in sugary syrup).

Unfortunately, there are some things that don’t count so we thought we would fill you in on those too:

  • As we said above, white potatoes do not count. It doesn’t matter what form: mashed, boiled, fried, it does not count!
  • Salad in your sandwich – it is not a big enough portion
  • Fruit yoghurts – they do not contain enough fruit to contain. You could, however, buy plain yoghurt and top with a portion of fruit yourself
  • Wine – it might come from grapes but unfortunately it doesn’t count (sigh – we wish it did!)
  • Fruit bread – again, not enough fruit contained in there to count
  • Veggie burgers – shop bought ones do not contain enough veggies to count, normally they are bulked up by other ingredients (flour, starch etc)
  • Jam – not enough fruit in there to count, and often refined sugars are added
  • Ketchup – it might contain tomatoes but it is too full of processed ingredients to count!

We challenge you to a week of eating 10 portions of fruit and veg per day, let us know if you hit that target!

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If you would like more information as to what counts as 1 portion size, check out the NHS website here: http://bit.ly/1e986Mf

If you want to read the full study by the Imperial College of London, find it here: http://bit.ly/2m74U17