High number of Britons don’t know which foods contain fibre or count towards 5 a day reveals British Nutrition Foundation

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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People of all ages in the UK are confused about which foods make up your five a day, according to a new survey published by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

While your five a day typically means eating five portions of fruit and vegetables in a day, 24% of children between seven and 11-years-old and 17% of teenagers between 11 and 16 said they thought chicken could be included.

Nearly 20% of primary schoolchildren also said they thought cheese counted towards your five a day.

The survey also reveals an overall confusion about the nutritional value of foods. When it comes to sources of fibre, just 38% of adults and 23% of older children thought carrots contained the essential carbohydrate, while 60% of secondary schoolchildren and 36% of primary schoolchildren thought wholemeal bread is a source.

Twenty-four percent of all schoolchildren also thought chicken contains fibre, when it has none at all.

Almost 80% of adults, 70% of primary schoolchildren and 91% of secondary schoolchildren did however correctly say that chicken contains a high level of protein.

But when it came to chickpeas, only 46% of older children and 29% of younger children said they thought it contained protein, despite the fact that an average adult portion of the legume provides a fifth of the recommended daily intake of protein.

This however is unsurprising given only a third of adults and 46% of schoolchildren have reportedly never tried chickpeas.

A large number of Britons also said they don’t eat or have never tried plant-based foods like beans, peas and lentils which are high in both protein and fibre. A third of adults and 55% of schoolchildren said they had never tried lentils, while more than a quarter of adults and nearly 50% of children reported to have never tried kidney beans.

Sara Stanner, Science Director at British Nutrition Foundation said: “Government advice is for us all to eat more plant-based foods because they’re good for us and for the environment. It is concerning that there is confusion across the UK about the nutritional contents of some common foods, including plant-based foods.

“Lack of knowledge means people are less empowered to make informed choices, and achieving a healthy diet, with a good balance of the right types of foods, is more difficult if you don’t know which key nutrients the foods that we eat provide.”

Adults in the UK consume an average of 19.7g of fibre a day which is not enough considering the recommended daily intake is 30g, says Stanner.

“If we think about fibre, eating plenty as part of a healthy, balanced diet is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer, and choosing fibre-rich foods may also help you to feel fuller for longer, which can help support weight management.

“Pulses, such as chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils, are all great sources of fibre and provide protein. They also have a low environmental impact and are relatively cheap to buy and cook. One portion of pulses even counts towards your 5 A DAY, yet their nutritional value is often underestimated and many people do not even think to eat them.”

The BNF survey also shows Britons are not doing enough to control their food waste. A quarter of all adults said they threw their food waste in the general waste bin, with a mere 17% having access to a compost bin and only 27% freezing leftover food for eating another time.

Thirty percent of adults said they try to find a recipe to help them use leftovers up, while 32% try to “use ‘what they can’ of unused foods”.

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