Pizza and 5-a-day – Our opinion

Can pizza be one of your 5 a day?

The potential for pizza providing one of your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg has been in the news a lot over the last day or so (Telegraph, Daily Mail).  Essentially, Public Health England has been considering whether the vegetable (or fruit) content in pizzas could be counted as one of your recommended portion intakes.  As we type, they are just at the consultancy stage, and a no decisions have been made.

What are the facts about 5 a day?

  • The five-a-day recommendations were announced in the UK in 2002 as a result of World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines to increase the global fruit and vegetable consumption in order to try to improve overall health.
  • One “portion” is suggested to be the equivalent of 80g of the fruit or vegetable.
  • The portion can be in various forms (e.g. fresh, frozen, boiled, cooked, dehydrated, juiced)
  • There is a list of what items count as one of your five a day on the NHS page here.
  • It is recommended that you eat more vegetables than fruit, mainly due to the higher sugar content of fruit.  Therefore, 3 veg and 2 fruit would be preferable to 5 fruit.
  • Not all portions of fruit and veg are made equal.  For example, one portion of kale will be far more nutritious than a glass of apple juice, even though both qualify.
  • Although consuming all of your 5 a day is a good achievement, it does not mean that you have eaten a perfect diet that day.
  • You will NOT have achieved a balanced diet by eating all of your five a day.
  • More recent recommendations by academics at University College London are that we should be eating 10 portions.
  • The five a day recommendations where originally intended to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg in their natural form, or as close as possible to that.  Over the last 12 years since they have been launched, more and more companies are jumping on the back of this opportunity to make their products sound more healthy.  However, many of those products have high levels of salt, fats and/or sugars, which can be more damaging than having that portion of fruit or veg in the product.

Not all pizzas are made equal

As you know, by being on this page, not all pizzas are made equal!  As far as we know, we are the only nutritionally balanced pizzas in the world. The vast majority of pizzas are too high in salt and saturated fat.

What would we recommend?

For Public Health England:

We would recommend that the 5-a-day portion should only be granted if the product does not have levels of salt, fat and sugars that are too high (red traffic lights).

For you:

1) If you are keen that you, or your kids, consume one of your five a day, try to keep it in the closest to it’s natural state as possible, because the more processed it is, the fewer the nutrients (e.g. vitamin C is lost with high heat, fibre is lost when juiced or strained)

2) Aim for a balanced diet by understanding why you need all of the nutrients, and where to find them.  See our guide here (http://www.eatbalanced.com/why-eat-balanced/)