We are all becoming increasingly aware of the importance of consuming fruit and vegetables thanks to the ‘five a day’ advice by the health authorities. Now that we have gotten used to trying to achieve this we are now hearing something else. Ten a day is the optimum. So which is it then? Five or ten? Well actually the new advice is based on a study which has shown the benefits of ‘ten a day’.
So, this does not contradict current recommendations of ‘five a day’ but is encouraging us to go a step higher and aim for ten. This new advice asks quite a lot from us, as to follow it we are not merely adding an extra portion but doubling what we are already trying to eat. Does this mean five a day is useless? Not useless but certainly more realistic and easier to implement.
Could it be possible that ‘ten a day’ is setting the bar too high? Perhaps some people would be disillusioned with this and give up the effort altogether. After all, only 1 in 3 of us are getting our ‘five’ so there is much work to be done and raising the amount is potentially putting unnecessary stress upon us.
However, we cannot ignore this research which is for our benefit and the results are impressive. Lower levels of illness and disease were found amongst those eating ‘ten a day’. In fact the study reveals that millions of deaths could be prevented worldwide by following the new advice. So what are we waiting for then? Well, let’s face it adopting the double amount into our daily diet can be hard work and time can be a factor.
Can I just munch on grapes all day?
It is tempting to find easy ways to meet the target and of course some fruit and vegetables are better than none. However, eating the very same piece of fruit or vegetable all day is not the answer because each variety supplies us with different nutrients and this is crucial to get the most out of your diet.
If you are not a huge fan of fruit and vegetables try mixing with other foods such as putting some small pieces of fruit in your yogurt, or making a smoothie. Or even having a tin of beans which are surprisingly part of your ‘five’. Ready meals containing vegetables can be included as well but not too often. Even hummus counts so you could prepare yourself a delicious dip if the idea of kale or spinach is too much.
What exactly is a portion?
Choosing ready-to-eat fruit such as apples and bananas is fine and counts as a portion. But, to be more precise when it comes to blueberries and strawberries – a portion is 80 grams. So if you do not have kitchen scales it may be worth investing in some and you may just find that it is not as complicated as you first thought.
You can allow yourself to get creative with food by including fruit and vegetables in a fun way. The latest trend ‘avocado with toast’ would certainly have you on your way towards your target amount. Do you have friends coming over? Get out the following: olives, guacamole and cashew nuts. Yes – these tasty snacks are also included!
What are the health benefits?
We know that the long-term health benefits are vast and consuming five or even ten a day can prevent heart disease and Type II diabetes which tends to develop later in life. The health of blood vessels and the immune system are greatly improved resulting in overall better health and functioning.
Short term benefits are very significant also because there is no fat in fruit and vegetables and they are also very filling, which helps us in the battle against obesity. If you prepare yourself a little salad made of tinned sweetcorn perhaps that chocolate bar will just have to wait as you will feel that you have eaten enough. Fruit and vegetables also protect against harmful chemicals entering the body.
Lunch on the run
So many of us would like to aim for that five or even ten a day however it just does not feel practical. Office life is busy and you may want to grab lunch on the go not really paying attention to the ingredients. There are some solutions though. You can prepare a lunch box and place some small portions of fruit and vegetables such as raw carrot sticks or celery in it.
Carrying some raw vegetables is particularly beneficial. Firstly it will reduce hunger pangs so you will be less likely to grab that pastry. Secondly raw foods are considered the best kind to consume as of course they are untreated and contain all the original nutrients.
So okay, this ‘ten a day’ recommendation is going to be a challenge and ‘five’ is much more realistic. The research is convincing and should make us strive to eat the most amount of portions, so go on, get some scales, get creative and enjoy those delicious flavours!