ONLY one in three of us manages to eat their "five-a-day" of health-boosting fruit and vegetables, new research has found.
Irish people are now more aware than ever of what they should be eating – but we're still not actually eating it. In fact, we're only getting half the recommended five portions a day of fruit and veg, a major new review by healthy eating body Safefood has found.
It found that 75pc of people know they should eat five portions of fruit and veg per day but only 36pc of people do so. On average, most people are eating just 2.4 portions.
Fewer than one in 10 adults actually eats the recommended amount although pensioners are a little healthier with 15pc getting their full quota.
Safefood scientific support manager, Dr Aileen McGloin, said it was encouraging that awareness had gone up on how much fruit and veg we should eat from just half of consumers a few years ago to three-quarters now – but we still needed to eat more.
"The health benefits of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can't be underestimated; one recent study has calculated that approximately 100 deaths from cardiovascular disease could be saved each year if fruit and vegetable consumption increased by one portion a day," she said.
That study of the impact of food policy options on heart disease and stroke deaths in Ireland was published in the 'BMJ Open' in July.
Internationally some 11pc of heart disease deaths, 9pc of stroke deaths and 14pc of gastrointestinal cancer deaths are linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables.
A 2001 European cancer study also found that eating just 50g more a day of fruit and vegetables could cut the risk of premature death from any cause by 20pc.
However, cost, shelf life, preparation time and habit were cited by Irish consumers as the barriers to buying and eating more fruit and veg.
But there are lots of practical ways to get more fruit and veg in our diet and particularly into our children's, said Dr McGloin.
This included an apple or banana as a snack, salad in a lunchtime sandwich and vegetables with the main meal.
"Tinned and frozen varieties which are quick and easy to prepare are also convenient ways to have more fruit and vegetables," she said.
A portion equals one large piece of fruit such as an apple, orange or banana, or two small pieces such as two satsumas or two kiwis.
Half a tin of fruit in its own juice also counts, as does 100ml or half a small carton of unsweetened fruit juice, three tablespoons of vegetables or a small salad.