The Five-a-Day myth was the subject of Channel 4’s Dispatches show this week, with an investigation into the false health claims many food manufacturers make about their food.
Since the government launched their five-a-day campaign, any product that contains 80g of fruit or vegetables is allowed to state that it contains one portion. For products that actually are the equivalent to one of your five-a-day that’s all well and good, but research shows that an increasing number of manufacturers are using this logo in a bid to make their food appear healthier than it actually is.
Case in point – a sausage and chips ready meal. Most people wouldn’t generally perceive this to be ‘healthy’ per se; however the packaging stated that it contained one of your five-a-day. This was found to be untrue –potatoes don’t count (especially in fried chip form) and the meal was otherwise high in fat and calories – not exactly a nutritious dinner.
What is worrying is that clever food marketing can trick people into believing they’re making good and healthy food choices, however generally these packaged products that claim to contain lots of fruit and vegetables are also packed with additives, preservatives and sugars that may negate any nutritional benefits.
Your best bet if you’re keen to get your five-a-day? Eat it fresh! Many people think it can be hard and expensive to get your fill but it’s really easy. Here’s an example of how you could get yours in a typical daily menu.
Breakfast: 30g porridge oats with flax seeds and a large handful of blueberries. (1)
Snack: 1 piece of fruit with small handful almonds(1)
Lunch: Mixed salad with chicken, fish or tofu (2)
Snack: Fat-free greek yoghurt
Dinner: Prawn stir fry with brown rice (2)
Here you’ve got more than your five-a-day easily and without the need for any processed foods. If you’re worried about fresh food going off you can buy frozen fruit and vegetables including stir fry mixes in all leading supermarkets, so there are no excuses!
Do you get your five-a-day? What do you think about the food marketing guidelines?
If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend watching the Dispatches: Myths about your five-a-day programme on catch up!