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Nutrition

Ten ways to get to ten a day

Eating 10 portions of fruit and veg is good for us, according to a study by Imperial College London. It could prevent almost a third of premature deaths each year, including cutting the risk of heart disease by 24%, stroke by 33% and cardiovascular disease by 28%.

It’s easier than you’d think to add the extra portions to your diet, as these simple tips show.
Two important rules to remember are that you can’t count the same food twice in one day (so 10 apples a day isn’t the solution) and that most nutritionists recommend limiting the fruit to three portions a day and making the other seven portions vegetables.

Make breakfast count…

Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of berries or add chopped banana to cereal and porridge. Accompany this with a glass of fruit juice or a smoothie, which both count as one portion.

… even when it’s a cooked breakfast

Having scrambled eggs? Then throw in some mushrooms, chopped peppers or tomatoes. For a full English, include a portion of baked beans and a cooked tomato. Or swap it all for the brunch favourite of avocado on toast.

Healthy snacks

Ditch the biscuits for a piece of fruit, or chopped carrots and cucumber dipped into hummus or guacamole. Honestly, it will stop the hunger. Or have a bag of dried fruit to hand such as apple crisps or dried mango slices.

Boost up lunchtimes

Unfortunately, that sliver of cucumber and lettuce in a lunchtime sandwich doesn’t count as a daily portion. Have a whole salad on the side and finish up with a fruity dessert.

Eat more beans

Most of us underuse tasty legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans, all of which count towards your 10 a day. Yet they’re very versatile and can be added to soups and stews for instant thickness and flavour, or combined with herbs and a good vinaigrette to make a delicious lunchtime salad.

Add your own fruit

Fruit-flavoured yoghurts don’t contain enough fruit to count as one of your portions – so buy natural and add your own. You can keep bags of frozen fruit in the freezer and tins in the cupboard so you never run out.

Add veg in, don’t make it a side

Grate carrot into a bolognese or add red pepper to tomato sauce for pasta. This is also handy if you have veg-averse types in your family.

Turn potato into a portion

Potatoes – whether baked, chipped or mashed – don’t count as one of your 10 a day. Sorry. But sweet potato does and can top a fish pie or be cut into strips for chips just as well as a potato. Alternatively, add other veg to your mash, such as celeriac or parsnip. It makes it tastier as well as one of your 10 a day.

Swap carbs for vegetables

There’s a growing trend for ditching carbs such as pasta for vegetables – spiralised courgettes for noodles, mashed cauliflower for rice. It might not sound like your thing but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – you might be a convert.

Stay true to you

Before you rush out to buy a mountain of fresh fruit and veg be realistic – are you more likely to eat it if it’s pre-cut? Will a bottle of smoothie get drunk where a fruit bowl of good intentions might rot? Could your freezer be your hero with a ready supply of spinach, sweetcorn, broccoli and berries? It’s all just as healthy.