Fruit and veg challenge

by Ali on October 10, 2008

I don’t need to tell you that you should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. But lots of us don’t manage to meet that target – and those of us who do could be aiming even higher

In Britain last year:

58% of 2,627 people surveyed last year had eaten at least five portions the day beforehand.
This was an increase from a year earlier when 55% hit the target.
- BBC news

Why Five-a-Day?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) set the fruit & veg target at 400g total per day – five 80g portions – because that was the level found to be a good predictor of health. People eating 400g or more of fruit & veg per day were at significantly less risk of “chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity”. In developing countries especially, this level of fruit & veg consumption is enough for “prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies”.

Overall, it is estimated that up to 2.7 million lives could potentially be saved each year if fruit and vegetable consumption were sufficiently increased.
- WHO – Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Around the World

It’s a minimum, not a goal

One thing that a lot of people miss is that five-a-day is the MINIMUM target. The WHO says that:

5 a day is as an international programme designed to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, with the specific goal of encouraging all women, children and men to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.

(Note the “at least” in the last line there…)

If you’re eating five-a-day, every day, try increasing your intake to seven. Some countries actively recommend seven – or even nine – portions of fruit and vegetables a day to their citizens. Fruit & veg are low cal and packed with nutrients, so they’re absolutely great foods for dieters.

The UK’s Eatwell plate (which shows a balanced diet) suggests:

Fruit and veg should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. And it’s also important to eat a variety. … aim for at least five portions a day.

Challenge yourself

How many portions of fruit and veg did you eat yesterday? If it was five, well done on meeting the target – now aim for six today! If you don’t regularly meet the five-a-day (and be honest with yourself here), then make it your main dietary goal for next week to hit that target every single day.

Want more tips on eating healthily, and great ways to reach (or exceed) that five-a-day target? Get free updates from The Office Diet straight to your RSS reader, or get email updates by putting your email address in the box on the top right.

(Image above by Natalie Maynor)

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