An alternative guide to your Christmas '5 A Day'

Jack Coles tells you how to achieve a balanced, festive diet.

Jack Coles
11th December 2017
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

Following on from my article several weeks ago about what could mathematically constitute a “fruit and vegetable portion”, I’ve decided to extend this towards Christmas foods. Once again I am not a dietician, and none of this is recommended by the NHS, or indeed any kind of official body.

Roasted vegetables

80g of cooked vegetables count as one of your 5-a-day; this equates to an entire buttered parsnip, a large-ish whole roast carrot, 7 Brussels sprouts (why), or four tablespoons of cabbage. If you’re feeling fancy, you could have a whole sweet potato for a portion, but regular roast potato (or mash) doesn’t count at all, unfortunately.

Mince pies

“Mincemeat” is the filling of mince pies, and formerly contained actual meat. Finding the fruit content of mincemeat is actually quite difficult, due to the sheer variety of recipes available, not to mention how cagey manufacturers are when it comes to divulging these recipes. It seems that about 50% of a mince pie’s weight is due to the mincemeat, and this tends to be mostly apple. Stands to reason that about 160g of mince pies is one of your 5-a-day; that’s about 2½ of those little mince pies from a 6-pack.

Greggs Festive Bake

According to the Iceland ingredients list for their frozen Greggs bakes (which are official Greggs produce), the Festive Bake is about 5% sage and onion stuffing, 2% cranberry and red onion relish, and 1% dried cranberries. Overall, this is about 8% fruit and vegetables. Assuming the overall product is 6% onion and 2% cranberry, each bake contains 9.48g of onion and 3.16g of cranberries. The upshot of this is that you need to eat eight Greggs Festive Bakes to get just one of your 5-a-day. That would cost you £6, so at least it’s a bit cheaper than some of the other methods outlined here.

Christmas Pudding

Hands up who likes Christmas pudding! Yep, almost none of you, that’s a pattern I’ve been seeing for the last couple of weeks. Christmas pudding has taken a backseat as the Yule log has taken off in popularity, but at least it can be part of your 5-a-day! Sort of. Quantities vary, but the Christmas pudding seems to contain about 30%-40% fruit. We’re talking 200g to 267g per portion, and no, that doesn’t include brandy sauce.


OK, so nowhere in the NHS guidelines does it say that cocoa beans are one of your 5-a-day, more’s the pity. Having said that, the cocoa bean is a bit like a kidney bean; I’m comparing the two Wikipedia articles right now and they’re pretty similar, except for the inordinate amount of magnesium in the former. Anyway, 80g of kidney beans is one of your 5-a-day, so therefore 80g of cocoa solids is also one. If you’re eating high-grade chocolate, like 75% cocoa solids (that’s my personal favourite), you’ll need about 107g. If you prefer Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, it’s more like 400g. Taste the diabetes.

Mulled wine

Wine is not one of your 5-a-day. Shocking, I know! Next thing you’ll tell me is that cider doesn’t count either! Anyway, 14 grapes make a single fruit portion. Wine requires about 600 grapes per bottle, and these bottles are around 750ml large, that means you need… 17.5ml of wine for a fruit portion. A medium glass of wine has double the number of fruit portions you need! Unfortunately this information is unlikely to be of any use as a) you’re only allowed one fruit/vegetable portion per day in drink format, and b) many of the nutrients in wine have been filtered out as those bits that nobody wants.

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