Everyone knows that eating fruit and vegetables has countless health benefits. Even with the knowledge it can be difficult to apply it. Busy lives and tight budgets often make it hard to get enough nutritious foods.
Here are some practical ways to get more fruit and veg into your diet. This article shows just how easy it is to add some more portions to your diet to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.
Tomato ketchup doesn’t count as it’s high in sugar and salt. As tomato puree is just concentrated pure tomato about 5 tbsp counts as one portion for an adult.
Make your own healthy tomato ketchup using tomato puree with a dash of apple cider vinegar. Once your body adjusts to natural tastes you won’t be able to go back to processed unhealthy tomato ketchup.
Forget using just a bit of lemon juice – peel a whole lemon and blend that instead. One whole lemon in recipes like this natural cough and cold syrup is one portion.
And no, lemon seeds aren’t bad for you.
Chickpeas make up over 80% of hummus and 4 tbsps is a portion. Alternatively, just 1/3rd of a can of drained chickpeas in any recipe is a portion of veg.
Hummus is a particularly delicious and easy way to get a portion as a quick snack with bread or carrot sticks. Also chickpeas are loaded in plant protein and fibre.
Check out my kale hummus with sweet potato chips for 3 portions in a side dish!
While these are actually an inverted flower they still count as a portion of fruit. 2 fresh or dried figs equals one portion.
Some people have asked “Are figs vegan?” as they can be pollinated by fig wasps who die in the process and are digested by the fig. However this is a natural process and its symbiotic – both the fig and the fig wasp would not flourish without each other. No, the tiny seeds in figs aren’t wasps and not all figs are pollinated by wasps.
Many forget that this tasty dip is mostly avocados. Just 4 tablespoons is a portion of fruit.
Only eat fresh guacamole and avoid any shop bought brands that have added diary as a cheap padding. Never buy the stuff in long life jars as its mostly unhealthy oil dyed green with next to no avocado. Jarred guacamole is more like green mayonnaise!
Making your own guacamole is the best way. My guacamole recipe uses red onion soaked in lime juice, with cherry tomatoes and smoked paprika.
Yes, jam can count towards your fruit portions but only a brand that has no added sugar and is just made of fruit. This is more expensive as refined sugar often makes up half of the volume of normal jam and is much cheaper than fruit.
Alternatively, you can make your own raw chia jam just out of fresh fruit and chia seeds.
4 tablespoons are about 1 portion for an adult.
Although they’re high in sugar they’re also high in fibre that means the sugar is not released quickly into the bloodstream.
3 normal dates are one portion although only pure dates with no added sugar will count. 3 dried apricots also count as one portion.
I’m not going to list all dried fruits but as long as they are pure they count. You need less dried to make up a portion as dried are more concentrated.
Olives are a fruit but most of the time they’ve been cured in salt so don’t count. However you can drain and soak olives in water for 24 hours to reduce the salt content by up to 70%. Making it easy to consume 80g or 14 olives without having too much sodium.
You can also find unsalted olives, but be aware they won’t be the taste you’re used to! Olives are naturally very bitter – as I found out eating a kalamata olive straight from the tree. Salt gives them the flavour everyone knows and without the salt they still taste good but you may have to rewrite your brain as to what the taste of olives actually is.
Are you someone that laughs when a recipe calls for a clove of garlic and adds a whole bulbs worth? Good news if you are as 6 large bulbs counts as one portion for an adult.
Garlic bulb sizes do vary a lot, but this calculation is using 13g as the average weight. Even moderate garlic lovers should be able to get 6 cloves over a day to make up one portion as they don’t need to be eaten in the same meal to count.
These white beans can count as one portion per day. Although I usually wash off the tomato sauce the cannellini beans come in, then add 4 tbsp of tomato puree with some chilli and turmeric.
This may sound wasteful but the beans still retain some of the baked bean flavours but are 80% lower in salt and sugar with a high amount of pure tomato so can count towards two portions!
Fungi count towards your daily portions. While they may not look the freshest produce 4-5 medium mushrooms in any meal makes a portion. Look out for vitamin d mushrooms for a great vegan source of vitamin D.
Quinoa garlic mushrooms are a dreamy side dish!
This is controversial but yes I’m recommending potatoes count towards your 10 a day, but hear me out. The reason they weren’t included in many public health campaigns is because they worried this may encourage people to eat chips and crisps. But potatoes do contain nutrients including vitamin C, folate, Vitamins B6, B1, potassium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Potatoes only count if they have not been fried. So baked, steamed and oil free roasted all count as a portion.
If you miss oily chips try baking wedges without any oil then mix in a teaspoon of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. That way you get the lovely oily taste without cooking the oil and destroying any goodness in it.
My sunflower and potato bake is an amazing comforting meal.
How Many Portions Of Fruit And Veg A Day?
The correct answer is 10.
However depending on where you live and who you ask the answer will be different.
Scientists decided for health that the correct amount of fruit or veg to aim for a day is 10. However UK and US government officials decided that advertising this could discourage people as it’s too unobtainable for many on the Standard American Diet (SAD) or Westen Pattern Diet causing them to give up.
Promoting 5 a day is more achievable and was decided that it would be a better goal for society. This is probably a good call with the intention of raising the target as diets improve.
In Australia, they promote 2 + 5 as two portions of fruit and five portions of veg a day.
A big disadvantage with 5 a day is for people with a good diet they may feel complacent at 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
My takeaway piece of advice as you’re probably healthier than average if visiting this site is: aim for at least 10 portions of fruit or veg in a day.
A study showed that eating 800g or 10 portions a day reduced all types of mortality.
How Many Blueberries In A Portion?
For all fruit and vegetables about a handful is a portion. Blueberry is one of the most commonly asked fruits for the portion size but the same rule applies to all fruits, vegetables, cooked beans and cooked pulses.
The only exception to this is dried fruit where only pure no added sugar fruit counts and the amount is half a handful.