We're just not tucking away our five a day: Britain shuns health benefits of raw fruit and veg

  • @zdboren

Britons are failing to eat the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables – despite the five-a-day policy being introduced more than a decade ago, according to a new study.

A survey of 2,000 people revealed the average Briton consumes only three of the five a day advised by the Department of Health, with 45 per cent saying they don't have the time to prepare fresh produce and 23 per cent saying they simply forget.

The five-a-day policy, introduced by California in 1991 and officially adopted by the Department of Health in 2003, is widely considered a success. However, several claims associated with the programme have been debunked – namely the relationship between fruit, vegetables and certain cancers.

Commenting on the report by Vegesentials, a manufacturer of fruit and vegetable drinks, Professor Tim Lang at the Centre for Food Policy in London said: "This study echoes what other studies have found: the British people are still not eating anywhere near five a day. We need to have a good, hard look at whether this target is being useful and whether we need to take more dramatic action to kick-start the necessary rapid change of the consumption of food and vegetables."

The report also suggests the UK remains uninformed as to the benefits of eating raw fruit and vegetables, with more than half the population (53 per cent) admitting that they don't understand the benefits of raw fruit and veg. The survey found that the average Briton eats raw fruit or vegetable only once a day, and 4 per cent miss out on it altogether.

Jo Travers, a dietician and nutritionist said: "Cooking can destroy certain nutrients in food, which means that if you don't include raw fruit and veg in your diet, then you might not be getting the most from them. People are often surprised to hear that eating red peppers, beetroot and Brussels sprouts raw is even more beneficial for vitamin C and B vitamins than cooking it."

Among the benefits of raw fruit and vegetable are the preservation of essential nutrients such as vitamin C and enzymes that help digestion, and a filling, high-fibre content.