Does Pesto Count Towards Your 5 A Day?

A cabbage, very much part of your 5 a day

Short answer
Even though pesto is packed full of vitamins, iron, calcium and healthy fats, sadly it doesn't contribute anything towards your 5 a day.

Long answer
The 5 a day concept is well intentioned but far from universally popular. Ready meal producers love the scheme because it enables them to shout about how many of your 5 a day you are getting per meal, but research consistently shows that people simply don’t understand what it all means.

Here's how the NHS defines a single unit:

• 80g of fresh, tinned or frozen fruit or vegetables
• 30g of dried fruit
• 150g of fruit juice or vegetable smoothie
• 80g of beans or pulses

Apart from a couple of notable exceptions, there are very few pesto sauces that contain any of the above. But wait, surely the herbs and garlic go towards your 5 a day, right? Sadly not, they don't even get an honourable mention on the NHS's list.

In the case of pestos that do count towards your 5 a day - sun-dried tomato pesto for example - a recommended portion size of 50g of pesto per person, will only give you around 10g of dried tomato. That's just 1/15 of your daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Unless we're in the mood for nothing more than a piping hot bowl of pesto pasta, we try to incorporate plenty of vegetables into our favourite pesto recipes. Here's a salad, a soup and a stew to get you started.