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 five 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 five a day, right? Sadly, 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.