Fruit and Vegetables ‘At least 5 a day’

Fruit and vegetables form an extremely important part of our diet and are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.

What foods are included in this group?

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables (without added salt or sugar)
  • Dried fruit
  • Unsweetened 100% fruit, vegetable juice and smoothies (these can only count once per day- no matter how much you drink!)
  • Beans and pulses (can only count as one portion per day, regardless of how many are eaten)

How much do people need and why?

Over a third of our diet should be from this food group and, as a minimum, we should be eating five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. 5 A DAY is the government’s approach to promoting fruit and vegetable consumption and is based on the advice of the World Health Organisation who recommend that we should be consuming a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables each day to reduce the risk of health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

As a nation we are still falling short of this target, only 30 per cent of UK adults aged 19 to 64 years are getting their 5 A DAY, so this is something many of us need to work on to make sure we are getting our 5 A DAY. Fruit and vegetables are important sources of vitamins A, C, B6, folate and potassium. Foods in this group are also an important source of fibre in the diet. Fruit and vegetables also contain a large number of other nutrients that are important for our health.

How much is a portion?

A portion is 80g or one of the following:

  • A slice of large fruit such as melon or pineapple, two slices of mango or half a grapefruit
  • A whole piece of fruit such as an apple, banana, pear or orange
  • Two pieces of smaller fruit, such as satsumas, kiwi fruit or plums
  • Three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables
  • A cereal bowl sized serving of salad
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice and/or smoothies to a combined total of 150ml per day
  • 30g (1 heaped tablespoon) of dried fruit

Too much of a good thing?

The latest evidence indicates that sugar may play a more significant role in obesity and other diseases than previously thought. Whilst fruit and vegetables form an important part of our diet, for those who wish to moderate their sugar intake, it is wise to be aware of the high sugar content of many fruits, particularly fruit juices and smoothies. Placing a greater emphasis on reaching your 5 A DAY by eating more vegetables than fruit is one way of moderating your sugar intake.

Our TOP TIPS to help you reach your 5 A Day:

  • Make breakfast time more interesting- try adding some fruit to your cereal or yoghurt. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries not only add a splash of colour and taste great, but also count towards your 5 A Day. Tinned tomatoes (delicious served on wholegrain toast) are also another quick and easy way of kick starting your day and notching up one of your 5 A DAY
  • Snacktastic. Fruit makes a great snack that is not only work friendly, but healthy too! Try freshening up your day with some fruit salad or perhaps some vegetable crudités and a low fat dip. More simply, you can’t go wrong with the one of the nation’s favourite fruits- the banana.
  • Do you want salad with that? When eating out try and have a salad or vegetable side dish with your meal. Don’t be afraid to ask for alternatives to chips (remember potatoes don’t count towards your 5 A Day).
  • Use your loaf. Choose sandwiches with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and other vegetables in them- every little helps!