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Here’s How to Have a Healthy Heart: Five-A-Day

by Lou-Ann Jordan Jan 1, 2024

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In 2022, a global Five-A-Day campaign supported the World Health Organization’s (WHO) diet recommendations. The WHO advised that a daily intake of at least 400g of fruit and vegetables could lower the risk of severe health problems such as heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and other non-communicable diseases. 

At a time when most people are changing various aspects of their lives, now is as good a time as any to prioritise having a healthy heart by starting a Five-A-Day diet. Here are some tips to get you started.

What counts toward your Five-A-Day?

You may wonder what can be considered part of your Five-A-Day plan. First, you should know that 80g of fruit and vegetables counts toward one portion of your daily intake. You can have them fresh or opt for dried or canned portions. Regarding canned items, be sure they are in natural juices or water and devoid of added sugar or salt. Although many of us enjoy fruit or vegetable smoothies or juices and may consider them part of the Five-A-Day, limiting your consumption to 150ml daily is advised. These beverages release sugars that can cause tooth decay. Furthermore, it’s best to have them during meals and not as a stand-alone snack. Additionally, if you’re a lover of pulses, you’ll be happy to know that 80g is the recommended portion for the day. But note if you exceed that amount it’s only calculated as one.

Tip: You can have fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, and peas. Starches, though necessary to your diet, do not count as part of your Five-A-Day.

Now, how do you transfer this information into a meal plan? There are numerous ways to do so, but here’s a chart to guide you, and we’ve also added an example of a day’s meals with a Five-A-Day plan incorporated.

Breakfast: Start the day right with a bowl of wholegrain breakfast cereal, a sliced banana, and a glass of pure fruit juice.

Mid-morning snack: Raw veggies are your friend. Try a snack comprising carrots and celery sticks. You can also add cherry or sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and sweet peppers.

Lunch: A yummy fresh salad, with a small pack of raisins, dates, or dried peaches for dessert.

Mid-afternoon snack: Slices of watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, pear, or whatever fruit is in season are great options for quelling your afternoon munchies.

Dinner: Avoid large meals for dinner. Also, it’s best to have something that digests quickly. Have a light meal with steamed veggies on the side to bring the day to a close.

Changing your diet can be challenging, but the benefits are worth it. As you’re already contemplating various changes you can make, why not attempt this? This year, decide to nourish your body correctly. Try maintaining your Five-A-Day; your heart will thank you.

Sources: NHS, The Daily Mail and The Association of UK Dietitians.