Fruit and vegetables
Why do we need to eat fruit and vegetables?
There are many reasons why we should have lots of fruit and vegetables in our diet.
They are a good source of soluble fibre
They contain many of the vitamins and minerals we need.
They are low in fat.
They are low in calories as well as being very versatile and delicious!
Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of the antioxidant vitamins - beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), vitamins C and E. These are thought to help protect against free-radicals which can cause damage to the body if present in large amounts.
Filling up on fruit and vegetables reduces the amount of fatty foods we eat.
They contain phytonutrients - these are naturally occurring, they are not vitamins or minerals but instead active compounds that are often antioxidants and have a beneficial effect on health.
5 a day
5 a day is a campaign to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables by highlighting the reasons why we need to eat them. We should be eating at least 400g of fruit and vegetables a day (this doesn't include potatoes). This works out to be at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables in any form. Fresh, frozen, dried or canned - it doesn't matter which. Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables in water or natural juices can be just as good for you as fresh.
What makes a portion?
A single portion should weigh about 80grams which is roughly the same as:
1 apple, orange, banana or pear
1 large slice of melon or pineapple
2 plums, kiwi fruit, satsumas
3 tablespoons of cooked vegetables
A dessert bowlful of salad
1 glass of pure fruit juice (this includes from concentrate) but this only counts as one portion no matter how much you drink over a day.
1 tablespoon of dried fruit
For children a portion is as much as they could hold in their hand.
Eating 5 a day
Five portions a day is easy to achieve:
A glass of fruit juice for breakfast
A banana for a mid morning snack
An apple with lunch
2 portions of vegetables with your evening meal
And with the huge variety of fruits and vegetables available, you need never get bored!
Easy ways to eat more fruit and veg
Add fruits such as bananas, strawberries or apples to breakfast cereals.
Mash bananas or fresh strawberries and whisk into milk to make a delicious milkshake.
Add canned or chopped vegetables such as carrots, peas or mushrooms to soups, stews, Bolognese sauce or home-made burgers.
Carrots, leeks, beansprouts, courgettes and broccoli are ideal served topped with a cheese sauce (use skimmed milk and half fat cheese to help keep the fat levels low!).
Jacket potatoes make a quick lunchtime snack with chopped pepper, spring onions and tuna.
Give your children fruit for snacks instead of sweets. Bananas, apples, satsumas, small bunches of grapes or small tins of fruit are ideal in lunchboxes. Try small packets of dried fruit, like raisins, too.
Add canned, fresh or (thawed) frozen fruit to jellies and top with cold custard.
Puree or chop canned, fresh or (thawed) frozen fruit and stir into natural yogurt or fromage frais for a quick dessert or snack.
In the warmer months, don't forget to include vegetables and fruit kebabs at barbecues. Sweetcorn on the cob and baked bananas in their skins go down a treat.
Have fresh crudités with a low fat dip. Try things like sticks of carrot, cucumber, celery and pepper, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
Fruit salad makes a great pudding at any time. Any leftovers can always be eaten for breakfast.
See healthy recipes >
Looking after you fresh fruit and veg
Eat fruit and vegetables in the freshest possible condition.
Store them in a cool dark place.
Wash and cut, chop or grate just before cooking or eating.
If necessary, scrape or peel as thinly as possible. Eat in their skins whenever possible.
Cook vegetables in the shortest possible time - until they are tender rather than soft.
Use a minimum of water in cooking vegetables - try pressure cooking, steaming or microwaving - and use the water to make gravy.
Place vegetables straight into boiling water (rather than heating from cold).
Looking after your frozen fruit and veg
Always keep frozen, preferably at -18oC or below.
Check the star rating on your freezer and compare to the storage instructions on Tesco packs.
Do not refreeze fruit and vegetable once they have thawed.
For best results, always cook from frozen - see the instructions above for cooking fresh vegetables.
Tesco packs give cooking guidelines for boiling and microwaving where appropriate.
Looking after your canned fruit and veg
Store unopened cans in a cool dry place.
Put any left over fruit and vegetables from an opened can into a plastic container. Seal the container and store it in the fridge. Eat the fruit or vegetables within 24 hours of opening the can.
See the instructions on the label.
See all healthy eating articles on Tesco Real Food.
Tesco is committed to helping you lead healthier lives. Visit www.tesco.com/health to discover more about what's in your food and what it does for your body, its packed with information, recipes and advice, you will see that eating nutritious meals and keeping active is also easy to do.