Research proves that eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day is an essential part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. By following the 5-a-day guidelines, you could reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and other conditions. That’s why it so important that we get enough of them.
This page will tell you about what a portion is, what counts as a portion and why colours are important. It also contains five helpful tips for getting your 5-a-day.
Five reasons to get five portions
- Fruit and vegetables taste delicious and there’s so much variety to choose from.
- They’re a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium.
- They’re an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
- They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
- Fruit and vegetables contribute to a healthy and balanced diet.
What is a Portion of Fruit and Veg?
A portion is about 80g of fruit or vegetables. This is roughly equal to:
- 1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar sized fruit
- 2 plums, satsumas, kiwi fruit or other similar sized fruit
- 1/2 a grapefruit or avocado
- 1 large slice of melon or fresh pineapple
- 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables, beans or pulses
- 3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad or stewed fruit
- 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins or sultanas
- 3 dried apricots
- 1 cupful of grapes, cherries or berries
- 1 dessert bowl of salad
- 1 small glass (150ml) of pure fruit juice
Do all fruit and vegetables count?
The following count towards your 5 A DAY:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Frozen fruit and vegetables.
- Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables. Buy the ones tinned in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
- Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs.
- Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes.
- A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. That’s mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables.
- Smoothies. A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion but this depends on how it’s made. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day.
- Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That’s because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.
- Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts. You can find the salt, sugar and fat content of ready-made foods on the label. For more information, see Understanding food labels.
What doesn’t count?
Potatoes are a vegetable, but they don’t count towards your 5 A DAY. That’s because the main nutrient in potatoes is carbohydrate (starch). When we eat them as part of a meal, they are generally used in place of other sources of carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta or rice. Therefore, potatoes are classified as a starchy food. Other vegetables that don’t count towards your 5 A DAY are yams, cassava and plantain.
However, other root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count. That is because they are usually eaten as a vegetable alongside the main starchy food in a meal.
Five easy tips for Five-a-Day
- A glass of pure unsweetened fruit juice is a quick and easy portion, but it can only count for one of your daily five.
- When you feel like a snack, go for fresh or dried fruit instead of crisps or chocolate. Or try vegetable sticks with a low-fat dip.
- Liven up the food you already eat with crunch or colour ” put tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber in sandwiches, berries and bananas in yogurt and cereal, or vegetables in pasta, stir-fries and soups.
- Make fruit and vegetables fun for children. Cut them into funky shapes, make a smiley face with fruit pieces, and get the kids involved when you’re cooking.
- Keep your kitchen well stocked with fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables. Remember that going for those in season is cheaper when buying fresh.
Healthy Eating with Weight Loss Resources
Your Weight Loss Resources Food Diary keeps a tally of your fruit and vegetable servings each day. Our calculation is based on the principle that 80g fruit or vegetables = one serving. Whilst, for simplicity, this is an approximation, it proves to be a good indication of your fruit and vegetable intake, and will help get to 5 a day.