Cancer and coronary heart disease account for 60% of all early deaths. A key feature of the Government's prevention strategy to reduce early deaths from these diseases is action to improve diet and nutrition.This includes action to reduce fat, sugar and salt in the diet, and to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables that we eat.
Current recommendations are that everyone should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day, to reduce the risks of cancer, strokes and coronary heart disease and many other chronic diseases by up to 20%. Yet average fruit and vegetable consumption among the population in England is less than three portions a day, and that amount tends to be lower among children and people on low incomes.
Eating more fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet
All adults and children over five years of age are encouraged to eat a varied, balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and added sugars. This means a diet which includes a wide variety of foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods (such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta), moderate amounts of meat and/or alternatives and moderate amounts of milk and dairy products. Children under five should be given a mixed and varied diet that includes a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Aim for at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day
Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned, 100% juice, and dried fruit and vegetables all count.
To get the maximum benefits, you need to eat different types of fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables all contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. So aim to include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your 5 A DAY to get the most benefit.
The fruit and vegetables contained in convenience foods - such as ready meals, pasta sauces, soups and puddings - can contribute to 5 A DAY. But convenience foods can also be high in added salt, sugar or fat - which should only be eaten in moderation - so it's important to always check the nutrition information on food labels.
Fruit and vegetables in takeaways can also count towards 5 A DAY, but again some of these foods may be high in added fat, salt and/or sugar, so you should only eat them in moderation.
One portion of fruit is, for example, half a large grapefruit, or a slice of melon, or two satsumas. One portion of dried fruit counts (1 portion = for example 3 dried apricots, or 1 tablespoon of raisins), but other types of fruit and vegetables should be eaten to meet the rest of the 5 A DAY target.
A glass of 100% juice (fruit or vegetable juice) counts as one portion. But you can only count juice as one portion a day, however much you drink. This is because it has very little fibre. Also, the juicing process 'squashes' the natural sugars out of the cells that normally contain them, which means that drinking juice in between meals isn't good for your teeth.
One portion of vegetables is, for example, three tablespoonfuls of cooked carrots or peas or sweetcorn, or one cereal bowl of mixed salad.
Beans and other pulse vegetables - such as kidney beans, lentils and chick peas - count only once a day, however much you eat. While pulses contain fibre, they don't give the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as fruit and vegetables.
Because they are considered a 'starchy' food, potatoes don't count towards 5 A DAY (starchy foods are foods like potatoes, rice pasta and bread). However, starchy foods are also an important part of a balanced diet.
These portion sizes are for adults. Children should also eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day, but the portion sizes may be smaller.
Examples of portion sizes of everyday fruit and vegetables
Have a look at the 5aday website for details on recommended portion sizes for everyday fruit and vegetables.
For more information on healthy eating:
|www.bhfactive.org.uk||BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health|
|www.meatandhealth.com||British Meat & Nutrition Education Service|
|www.bmesonline.org.uk||British Meat Education Service|
|www.nutrition.org.uk||British Nutrition Foundation|
|www.flourandgrain.com||Flour Advisory Bureau|
|www.milk.co.uk||National Dairy Council|
|www.foodstandards.gov.uk||Food Standards Agency|
|www.heartforum.org.uk||National Heart Forum|
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