Simple ways to get your five a day

five a day

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The term “five-a-day” refers to the three portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit we should try to incorporate into our diet.

As a rule of thumb, a portion of vegetables - whether it be pulses, beans, or frozen vegetables should be three heaped tablespoons. A portion of green leafy vegetables should be four heaped tablespoons. For salad vegetables, a two-inch piece of cucumber, three sticks of celery, two handfuls of salad leaves, one medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes count as one portion.

It is a little different for fruit portions. For small fruits like plums, kiwis, strawberries, cherries or lychees, a portion is usually what you can hold in an open hand. A medium-sized fruit like an apple, orange, nectarine or bananas counts as a portion. For larger fruits like papayas, melons, pineapples or mangos, a two-inch slice would be sufficient.

A tablespoon of small dried fruit like raisins, currants or sultanas  or a handful of larger dried fruit like figs, banana chips or dried mango slices are other alternatives for what could make up a portion. Otherwise, you could also opt for 150ml of 100% juice or smoothie, but this would be an option lacking in fibre.

For a power breakfast, you can add a handful of chopped dried fruit or a sliced banana into your breakfast cereal. This will count as one portion of fruit. An alternative can be an omelette packed with a handful of peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or beans on toast. Serving the omelette with a sliced apple or two handfuls of grapes will count toward one portion of vegetables and fruit each.

It is also easy to add a portion of your five-a-day at lunch. Have an avocado, ham and tomato salad; half an avocado, two large tomatoes, a handful of salad leaves alongside two slices of ham gives you three portions of your five-a-day. Additionally, have freshly blended fruit juice, instead of coffee, tea or a fizzy drink with your lunch.

Including vegetables and fruit into dinner can also be effortless. Instead of having an all-meat sauce with your pasta, why not halve the meat portion and top it up with chopped carrots and mushrooms? Or blend tomatoes, cucumber, peppers with other vegetables and heat it up as a savoury soup with some crusty bread. Meat and vegetable stir-fry with a fist-sized portion of rice can be tasty and filling as well.  This counts as two to three portions of your five-a-day.

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