Get a Start on your Way to 10-a-Day
For the last decade UK guidelines have recommended we eat 5-a-day, that’s five portions of fruit and vegetables, 400g, per day. However, fewer than one in three UK adults are thought to meet this target.
What are the health benefits of eating 10-a-day?
Now, a new study by Imperial College London, has found that eating 10 portions, 800g, a day may give us longer lives. In fact, the researchers calculated such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year. As well as this, they found - by pooling data on 95 separate studies, involving two million people's eating habits - certain fruit and veg could help to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Vegetables linked to this included green veg like spinach, yellow veg i.e. peppers and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower. In addition, the researchers made a link between a higher intake of vegetables with other health conditions. Their results showed a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke and a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
What counts as a portion?
A portion counts as 80g (3oz) of fruit or veg - the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5-a-day, including frozen, canned and dried, so here are 10 simple ways to help you get as close to your 10-a-day as possible.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Whether you’re a morning person or not, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Add a sliced banana on to your favourite cereal to guarantee your first of 10 portions. Alternatively, opt for avocado on toast or add mushrooms and tomatoes to scrambled eggs.
- Fruit juice. Remember that a smoothie counts towards one of your portions. Smoothies made from whole fruits are best, as they contain fibre.
- Be a savvy snacker. Plan your snacks ahead and put in time to prepare. Try carrot or cucumber sticks with humous to fight off hunger or grab a handful of nutrient-dense almonds.
- Go canned. Unlike fresh fruit and veg, tinned and frozen keep for much longer. And if you’ve already stocked up, you have no excuse not to reach for them. Just be sure to avoid fruit that’s tinned in syrup, as even light syrup has a lot of sugar.
- Add fruit to fresh yogurt. Choosing a fat-free yogurt and adding your favourite fruits is another way to top up your fruit portions.
- Shop locally. There’s nothing better than fresh and seasonal produce. Visit local farm shops, weekly markets and nearby allotments for more choice and meal inspiration.
- Substitute ingredients. Where possible experiment with new flavours using fruit and veg. Swap chocolate cake for a healthy-alternative baked treat such as courgette cake or a packet of crisps for homemade vegetable crisps using parsnips, beetroot and carrots.
- Love lentils. Beans – including baked beans - and lentils count towards your 10-a-day and are good sources of carbohydrates and protein.
- Pick a sweet potato. While white potatoes are a great source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium, they are not considered a vegetable. Choose sweet potatoes which do count towards your 10-a-day and are a good source of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
- Experiment with stir-fry. A quick and easy way to get fruit and vegetables is to stir-fry. Pick your own ingredients and experiment with new combinations.