Five a day: Can you cheat?

The food industry has dreamed up hundreds of ways to hit your daily fruit and veg target. But do they do they deliver what they say on the wrapper? Dan Lloyd asks the experts

In 2003 the Government began to encourage us to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables a day to help boost our intake of vitamins and minerals. Now companies are selling foods that claim to count towards your five-a-day, even if they don't look like they do. But are they really good for us? We grabbed 10 readily available items and asked two nutritionists how healthy they really are.

Our experts

Charlotte Watts is a nutritional therapist and co-presented BBC 3's Freaky Eaters. She's a partner with the health and weight loss specialists, Positively Slim

Marisa Peer is a leading voice on nutrition. Her new book, Ultimate Confidence, published by Sphere, is out now at £10.99


Warburtons fruit loaf with orange, £1.09

Claim: two slices = one of your five-a-day.

We say: stodgy, like a cake and very sweet

The experts say:

CW: "A sugary, highly processed product that tastes like confectionery, and the two slices equals one portion claim is a bit dodgy. I have an issue with that."

MP: "I don't see the point. Why buy bread – full of flour, sugar and starchy carbohydrates – when you could just eat an orange? It's silly."

Score: - 2/10

Alpen high fruit cereal, £2.80

Claim: one serving = one of your five-a-day.

We say: Plenty of dried fruit and oats – tasty with varied textures.

The experts say:

CW: "At least it's got rolled oats, so it's a low glycemic index product. But it's mostly sultanas and raisins, which are very sweet."

MP: "Dried fruit hasn't got the same vitamins as fresh fruit, and God knows how old it is. This is much better than cereals like Coco Pops but I'm not convinced this is one of your five-a-day.'

Score: 4.5/10

Princes fruit cocktail in juice, 67p

Claim: Half a tin = one of your five-a-day.

We say: A refreshingvariety of chunky peach, pear, and pineapple pieces, with grapes and cherries in a sweet juice.

The experts say:

CW: "The juice is made from concentrate, so it's high in sugar. I'm sure this satisfies the one-a-day claim, but it has lost a lot of nutrients from being in a tin."

MP: "If you haven't got fresh fruit this is the next best thing. It looks and tastes like fruit. Overall I think this is an excellent product."

Score: 5.5/10

Main meal

Sprout three-bean tostada, £2.99 at Waitrose

Claim: one meal = two of your five-a-day.

We say: Flour tortillas layered with beans in a tomato sauce covered in cheese with subtle seasoning, lip-smackingly good.

The experts say:

CW: "I can't see any veg apart from beans, and eating them with cheese sauce and tortillas means you're negating any of the good stuff. Horrible."

MP: "Better than having a burger, but there's too much cheese and sugar. It has got some veg, but I'm not sure it's two portions."

Score: 7/10

Innocent Indian daal curry tasty veg pot, £3.49 at Sainsbury's and Waitrose

Claim: one pot = three of your five-a-day.

We say: Fresh crunchy veg with subtle flavoured lentils, enjoyable, but nothing special.

The experts say:

CW: "I like this. You can see actual vegetables! Looking at the volume I wouldn't say this is three-a-day, I think it's two max."

MP: "This looks like real food. It has got good colour, looks fresh, with good ingredients and it doesn't have sugar in it. Excellent."

Score: 9/10

Eat Well Goan-style king prawn meal, £3.99 at Marks & Spencer

Claim: one meal = one of your five-a-day.

We say: Prawns, rice and veg in a nice mild sauce. A tasty lunch.

The experts say:

CW: "This isn't a processed product, so there's no artificial rubbish in it. You get what you see, which is good. I'd eat this, but I'd add some salad for a bit of extra goodness."

MP: "Good ingredients. You would get one a day from this, but if you added some extra veg it would be even better."

Score: 9/10


Eat Natural lunchies bars, £1.95 for 5

Claim: one bar = one of your five-a-day.

We say: Fruity and chewy with a sweet yogurt coating – we like it.

The experts say:

CW: "These are so sweet they're shocking. There's no need to give your kids this sort of snack. It's a shame because the adult bars with nuts are a pretty good product."

MP: 'This has got a yoghurt coating, raw cane sugar, and then added sugar. That's way too much. I wouldn't give this to my children."

Score: 2/10

Fruit Bowl school bars, £1.18 for 5

Claim: Counts towards one of your five-a-day.

We say: Like chewing rubber with an artificial fruity aftertaste.

The experts say:

CW: "Marginally better than the lunchies, but they taste repulsive and smell dead and artificial."

MP: "Because of the apple purée making up most of the bar, I don't mind them. They're not too sweet either, so better than some other snacks."

Score: 4/10


V8 100% vegetable juice, £1.37

Claim: One small glass = one of your five-a-day.

We say: A thick, tomato-flavoured drink. It's OK, but an probably an acquired taste.

The experts say:

CW: "This is more vegetable than fruit, so it's not just sugar, sugar, sugar. There are more mineral content and cleansing properties in vegetables."

MP: "Contains tomatoes, green vegetables and beetroot. Overall, a good product."

Score: 8/10

Higher Nature Easy 3, £17 for 10 servings,

Claim: 22g powder mixed with 150ml water = three of your five-a-day.

We say: Very strange flavour and leaves a powdery aftertaste.

The experts say:

CW: "The idea of taking a powder to satisfy three of your fruit and veg a day is a terrible way forward. It's all de-natured, dead food."

MP: "It's very portable, so if you're working in an office or on a train it's better than having a fizzy drink."

Score: 4/10

The experts' verdicts

CW: "It's sad that people feel the need to cheat. Fruit and veg should look like fruit and veg – if you can't see it, it's probably not there. I think you can get away with one or two of these products occasionally, but don't be fooled – concentrating food down and refining it negates a lot of it's beneficial properties."

MP: "We've got to get away from packaged, processed food. Some of these products take families away from what they should have – a fruit bowl."

Five-a-day: What you need to know

All good

* Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned and dried fruit and vegetables all count towards your five-a-day. You don't have to eat them on their own either – they can be in soups, stews, sandwiches, pasta sauces or puddings.

* Fruit and veg in ready meals and convenience foods do count, but be careful – these meals tend to have a high salt, sugar and fat content which could do more harm than good in large quantities.

* To get five-a-day you need to be eating five different fruits or veggies – five portions of broccoli still only counts as one. Fruit juice only counts as one portion, no matter how much you drink.

* Five pieces a day is not an average – it's a minimum. The more fruit and veg you eat, the better.

Bad bad bad

* Dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals don't count.

* Potatoes and other starchy carbs such as yams and cassava aren't included in the five-a-day quota. Neither are chips...

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea