Importance of Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a good source of fibre (soluble and insoluble), are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and a variety of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant substances) and antioxidants that are vital for health.
Studies have shown that eating a wide variety and aiming for a minimum of five portions each day, can help to reduce your risk of developing many health conditions such as; high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and certain cancers. An added bonus being naturally low in energy (calories) and high in fibre, meaning they can help to maintain a healthy weight.
- Where possible aim for at least 5 x 80 g portions of fruit and vegetables each day (daily total 400g)
- Fresh, frozen, dried, canned fruit in juice and canned vegetables in water, with no added sugar and salt all count
Some portions only count as one in a day e.g.:
- 150 ml fruit juice, (as the juicing process removes most of the fibre from the fruit)
- 80 grams of beans and pulses, as although a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than other fruit and vegetables
- 1 medium apple / orange / pear
- 1 small banana
- 10 grapes
- 2 halves of tinned peaches
- 7 strawberries / cherry tomatoes
- 2 satsumas / plums / kiwis
- 2 rings tinned pineapple
- 2-inch slice of fresh pineapple / melon
- 1 small box raisins
- 1 cereal bowl of mixed salad
- 1 bowl of vegetable soup
- 3 broccoli florets
- 3 heaped tablespoons of peas and sweetcorn
- 150mls pure fruit juice
I Have Diabetes, Can I Still Eat Fruit?
Although fruit contains natural sugar, having diabetes does not mean that you should stop eating it. If you are distributing your intake evenly across the day and having in the recommended portion sizes, it is very unlikely for fruit to be contributing to elevated blood glucose levels.
How Can I Reach 5 Portions a Day?
- Include a 150-ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice (only once a day)
- Slice fruit over your cereal
- Add grilled mushrooms or tomatoes to scrambled eggs
- Have a bowl of vegetable soup (homemade or tinned)
- Add extra salad to your sandwich
- Add some extra vegetables to a pizza; 3-4 tablespoons sliced mushrooms; half a pepper; 2 pineapple rings
- Include a large side of mixed salad or 2 portions of vegetables
- Opt for fruit as a dessert with light yoghurt
- Easy options include; pears / apple / plums / satsumas
- A little more preparation for celery / cucumber / carrot sticks with low fat hummus
How Can I Keep the Cost Down?
- Dried, frozen and canned options, choosing supermarket own brands
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season
- Avoid wastage by buying fresh fruit and vegetables in varying degrees of ripeness, so that some ripen earlier and some later
- Placing fruit in a bowl causes them to ripen quicker
- Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged so you just buy what you need
- Local markets are often cheaper than supermarkets for fruit and vegetables
- Don’t throw away vegetables that are about to go out of date, put in soups, stews or casseroles and freeze