Health & Lifestyle

The surprising foods that DO count towards your 5-a-day

The surprising foods that DO count towards your 5-a-day – including PIZZA

  • Survey data shows three out of four Britons aren’t hitting the five-a-day target
  • One in five also have not managed to reach the target once in the last year  

Advice to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day has been peddled since the 1990s. 

Yet 95 per cent of Britons don’t realise that pizza counts as one of our recommended five portions.

And six out of ten are also unaware beans on toast are even allowed.

That is, according to a poll which found a lack of understanding over what qualifies and how much should be eaten is as much to blame as the cost of food. 

The survey, carried out by recipe box firm Gousto, also showed three in four Brits don’t manage to hit the target – with a dislike of vegetables in favour of carb-laden food such as chips, potatoes and pasta, another excuse.

The survey, carried out by recipe box firm Gousto, also showed three in four Brits don't manage to hit the target - with a dislike of vegetables in favour of carb-laden food like chips, potatoes and pasta, another excuse

The survey, carried out by recipe box firm Gousto, also showed three in four Brits don’t manage to hit the target – with a dislike of vegetables in favour of carb-laden food like chips, potatoes and pasta, another excuse

Only one in 20 knew that just the basic sauce topping on pizza counts as a five-a-day portion, with the possibility of extra credit if there’s other veg on top in the choice of pizza.

Six out of ten also didn’t think baked beans should be allowed, when they can be – so even a breakfast fry-up could enable one to be ticked off.

But one in four people wrongly thought nuts count, and 37 per cent of those quizzed in the study mistakenly thought potatoes qualify.

The research also found 22 per cent of people admit they hadn’t managed to hit their five on any day in the past year.

In another misunderstanding, 56 per cent didn’t credit sweet potatoes, which can be regarded as one of the five.

The main barrier stated for failure to hit the daily recommendation was cost – cited by 36 per cent.

But one in three were just unsure what does or doesn’t count, and four out of five wondered how much they would need to eat to constitute a portion.

A shocking 48 per cent of those surveyed confessed they hadn’t even managed to meet the recommended amount once in the past month.

Nutritionist Ellie Bain said: ‘People say their most important health goal is to eat more veg, but it’s not that easy.

‘Different colours of fruit and veg means they have different health benefits. This is because the colours are created by their fibre, antioxidants, vitamin and mineral content.

‘It’s recommended that we eat five fruits and vegetables a day for a reason – they offer an array of health benefits from weight management and reduced risk of diseases.’

While pizza and fry-ups might tick a portion off, relying on them too regularly however might not keep the weight off.

Just over half of those asked who did eat their five also thought they felt healthier as a result, the survey found.

The five a day target was introduced in the US in 1990 and the UK in 2003. 

There is overwhelming evidence of the health benefits of eating more fruit and veg – and in recent years many scientists have argued the guidance should be raised from five to seven or even ten portions a day. 

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? 

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: Five portions of fruit and vegetables, two whole-wheat cereal biscuits, two thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks), choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including two portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink six to eight cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide  

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