Is Five-a-Day really enough?

Posted by Shaleen Meelu on Friday, 23 November 2012 in General

Is Five - a - day really enough? 

Five is actually the minimum recommended number of daily portions in the US. Health professionals there say eating more is beneficial for health. 5 -a- day in the UK is based on our food culture 'there must be a balance between what is healthy for the British people and what is feasible'DH consultant quoted in the Guardian

The Danes aim for 6, the French aim for 10 and the Japanese aim for seventeen! 5 is chosen by a number of countries as 'the nutrients included in 400 g of fruit and vegetables' is likely to be effective at protecting the population against chronic disease such as obesity and diabetes. Personally, I try and adopt the US message - aim for five and go for more if possible. There are a few recipes I know which include at least four portions in one meal which helps. The Japanese number of portions is more but their portion size is slightly smaller than ours (50 g versus 80 g). 

Are smoothies really all they are cracked up to be? 

Smoothies can count as up to two portions a day (Innocent brand). Smoothies are more nutritious than high sugar carbonated drinks and fruit flavoured drinks (which don't really contain that much fruit at all) BUT consumers need to be aware that preparation of some smoothies will result in loss of fibre and increase sugar availability. For this reason, 

  • Dentists recommend consuming fruit and fruit drinks as part of a meal (fruits contain natural sugar which can promote acid erosion)
  • Pure juices and some smoothies need to be diluted for young children to protect their teeth and should only be consumed as part of a meal. 
Nutritionists are currently studying the effect of fluid versus solid on appetite regulation. Drinks used to replace meals may not be very good at keeping us feeling fuller for longer.

Fruit versus Veg

 I spoke to Professor Janice Thompson (Public Health Nutrition and Exercise, Birmingham University) who suggests that like Japan we should introduce guidance around the amount of veg versus fruit we should eat . Janice says people should attempt to consume 3 out of 5 portions from vegetables and 2 from fruit sources to manage the 'sugar' problem and introduce diversity 

The Five - a -day challenge

Despite my passion for food and my title 'registered nutritionist' even I find it a challenge to consume five-a-day without careful meal planning and preparation. I've figured out a few simple recipes that I alternate on a daily basis that include at least four portions in one meal and we will post this in the coming weeks (December 2012). I try and eat at least one main meal at home so that I don't need to rely on fast food or convenience food which is typically poor in veg/fruit.  

Why do we need Five-a-day?

What counts as your Five-a-day?

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Hi, my name is Shaleen Meelu and I am the founder of Healthy Futures. I’m also a registered nutritionist and I have helped over 3,000 people embark upon healthy living programmes.


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