Eating to protect yourself

7 May 2020
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Many of us will be aware it’s recommended we eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day. But why? What are the benefits?

Well, fruit and veg are a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C, minerals and fibre. They are also low in calories and fat, which helps people to maintain a healthy weight.

Evidence of benefits

Evidence shows having your five-a-day can help protect you from heart disease, stroke, obesity and some cancers.

As a rough guide, a portion is the amount that you can fit in the palm of your hand. 

See: NHS guide to five-a-day portion sizes

Fruit and vegetables should make up just over a third of the food you eat every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.

The great thing about fruit and veg is there is a wide variety to choose from. Different types contain different combinations of nutrients.

And an easy way to have a variety is to try to eat different colours of fruit and veg throughout the day.

Breakfast tips

Add fruit to breakfast cereal, porridge or yogurt. Have a glass of unsweetened fruit/vegetable juice or smoothie, too.

But have only one portion of fruit juice a day as the sugar can damage your teeth.

If you're having eggs, have some grilled tomatoes or mushrooms on the side.

Snacking tips

Swap sugary treats like biscuits for a piece of fruit, or vegetable sticks like carrot, cucumber or celery. Maybe dip the sticks into low-fat hummus for extra flavour.

Lunch tips

Have a side salad with your meal or add lettuce, cucumber and/or tomato to your sandwich. Avoid high-fat dressings.

Dinner tips

Add vegetables to soups, stews, curries, pasta and rice dishes. Mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, pineapple or sweetcorn are good toppings on a pizza.

Try adding vegetables to your mashed potatoes. Or add grated carrot or courgette to your pasta sauces.

For dessert, try low-fat natural yogurt topped with chopped bananas, strawberries and a sprinkle of seeds or nuts.

See: NHS guide to what counts for five-a-day

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