How many carrots count as a portion? What are the benefits of fruit and veg? Find all the answers and inspiration to get your 5 a day here.
We all know that a varied and balanced diet, together with an active lifestyle, is the key to good health and wellbeing. At Co-op, we want to make healthy choices easy for you, whether that’s through developing delicious products in our healthier choices range ‘Well and Good’, highlighting 5 a day messages on products or through reducing calories, fat, sugar or salt in our products. Here’s some things you need to know to help you follow a healthy diet.
Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories, so having a lot can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. You may also be at risk of tooth decay. In short, keep your sugar consumption low. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little now and then.
While eating a variety of food is important, so is eating the right amount. Getting the right portion size will help control your calorie intake.
Check out the British Nutrition Foundation website for guidance on portion sizes.
The Eatwell Guide recommends you drink 6-8 glasses a day. Water, lower fat milk, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee are all included.
Alcohol is not included in this guidance however it is fine to consume alcohol in moderation as part of your diet/lifestyle. It’s recommended that you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol spread evenly over a week. This will help you keep health risks to a low level while still getting to enjoy a tipple.
Eat less salt
If you don't add salt to your meals at the dinner table, you probably think you don't eat much salt. However, salt can be present in many everyday foods including bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.
Adults should have no more than 6g of salt each day, and children under 11 years old should have less. Check the colour coded nutrition information on packs to see how much a portion contains.
Co-op has been reducing salt for many years now.
Co-op’s Salt Journey
- 1986 - Co-op created the first consumer-friendly, nutrition labelling system used by any retailer.
- 1998 - Co-op added salt to the 'at a glance' front pack labelling, the first retailer to do so.
- 2006 - Co-op committed to working towards meeting the FSA 2010 salt targets. Co-op also supported the FSA’s salt campaign to help educate our customers to cut back on their salt intake.
- 2009 - Co-op met relevant own-brand product categories well ahead of the 2010 target.
- 2011 - Co-op committed to the PHRD salt reduction pledge – working towards meeting 2012 salt targets.
- 2014 - Co-op became the first retailer to commit to the PHRD 2017 salt reduction targets.
- 2018 - Co-op were 98% compliant with the maximum 2017 salt targets.
Fat is an essential part of a healthy balanced diet. The key is to only have a little and get the right kind.
Saturated fat is found in butter, cakes, crisps, sweets, biscuits and pies. Reducing your consumption of saturated fat contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
It’s important to reduce your saturated fat intake as raised blood cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Enjoy these foods as an occasional treat and keep portion sizes small.
You can reduce your saturated fat intake in many ways such as;
- Use leaner mince
- Trim fat from meat
- grill, poach or steam rather than frying or roasting
- Swap cheese based sauces with tomato or vegetable based sauces.
- Limit the amount of oil you use in cooking
- Limit the amount of butter/spreads you use
- Try reduced fat products such as mayonnaise, coleslaw etc
- Compare nutrition on product labels when shopping to find the healthier options. Check out our labelling page for more guidance.
Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Unsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, olive oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are great as a snack or scattered on breakfast cereal or salads.
Avocado is delicious thrown into a salad or with poached egg on toast. Try using reduced fat spreads such as those based on olive or sunflower oil
The power of protein
There are many different sources of protein such as meat, fish, beans, pulses, eggs. The British Nutrition Foundation recommend that we eat 2-3 portions of protein per day.
The Eatwell Guide encourages us to eat more beans and pulses and eat less red and processed meat eg bacon, sausages, cooked ham, and continental meats. This will help us shift to more sustainable diets and will also mean you will get more fibre and be closer to your 5 a day.
Plant based protein
Plant based protein such as nuts, beans, pulses and soya are all good sources of protein and very versatile so they can be used in many different recipes.
The portion size of nuts is about 30g (about a handful). They make a great on the go snack or you could chop them and add them to meals.
3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses counts towards 1 of your 5 a day. These are great for adding to curries, stews and casseroles.
Check out our recipes for some ideas. Tofu and other plant based meat alternatives are really versatile and can be used in so many different dishes.