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



Breakfast

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

Snacks

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

Drinks

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, highernature.co.uk

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
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

    £20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

    £17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

    Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

    Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

    Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen