Posted 12th May 2017
The latest recommendation suggests we should be eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables each day
This can seem an ambitious target to some, with only eight per cent of teenagers and around a third of adults meeting their five-A-Day target (1)
Fruit and vegetables are brimming with essential vitamins and minerals, a variety of phytochemicals, gut healthy fibre and are also naturally low in calories - and it can be easier to fit them in than you think.
State Registered Dietitian, Helen Bond, has provided her advice on how to painlessly up your fruit and veg intake:
"Whilst consuming more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may be desirable, the reality is that for many people this is unrealistic and unachievable. However, there are simple food swaps and changes we can make to improve our daily diet, whilst still keeping our taste buds satisfied."
To help us increase our intake, she advises:
1 Go nuts
It's easy to add tasty plant-based ingredients as a way of livening up a green salad - it doesn't have to be all vegetables. A handful of toasted, caramelised or plain walnuts, for instance, can add a variety of texture, and are also great for adding texture. They're full of good fats, essential omega-3s, lots of vitamins and minerals.
2 Replace potatoes
Potatoes, yam and plantain don't contribute to your five-A-Day target, as they're a starchy food. Instead, you can try replacing, or else supplementing potatoes with different vegetables. Mashed parsnip, sweet potato, carrot and butternut squash are all brilliant - try mashed carrot and swede for a nutritious and delicious combination.
3 Double up
Most recipes, especially stews, curries, casseroles and pizzas, will give you space to double the veg used without altering the dish. An extra handful of peas, beans or lentils, chopped up mushrooms or doubling the leafy green. This will add flavour, texture and nutrients.
4 Grate away
Grate your favourite vegetable or fruit and sprinkle it over your meal for a healthier dish.
5 Get spiralising
Instead of spaghetti to accompany your bolognese, why not spiralise carrots or courgettes into 'courgetti'?
6 Ditch your elevenses biscuits
Instead of sitting down for a mid-morning biscuit with your tea, try a handful of dried fruit - for instance, apricots, dates, raisins and currants. A 30g portion will count towards your five-A-Day.
7 Keep your freezer and cupboards well stocked
A convenient alternative to fresh varieties, they will stay fresher for longer and will count towards your 5-A-Day target.
8 Eat a rainbow
Variety is important - different coloured fruit and vegetables will contain their own unique combo of nutrients. To get the most benefit, you should try to eat one portion from each colour group. Try and incorporate as many colours as possible.
9 Go for those in season
Locally grown produce will offer the best value for money and are picked at their peak of ripeness. They will often look and taste the best.
10 Start the day with a glass of unsweetened 100% pure fruit or vegetable juice
Hydrate after the overnight fast with a 150ml glass - this will count as a portion.
11 Got the munchies?
Chomp on your favourite variety of nuts or raw vegetable crudités - for instance cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, carrot batons or celery sticks with a spicy salsa, hummus or guacamole dip.
12 Don't forget dessert
Pack one final portion into your day with a bowl of yogurt and frozen berries - it's easy to put together, is nutritious and delicious.
Information courtesy of Helen Bond / California Walnuts