What counts as five-a-day?
Most of us known we should be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to help balance our diet, but what counts and how much is a 'portion'? Our nutritionist has all you need to know to reach your five-a-day
What is five-a-day?
In 1994 the UK government started the 'five-a-day' campaign to encourage people to eat a combination of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This was in response to the numerous studies that demonstrated that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables helped to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity.
What counts for your five-a-day?
All fresh, frozen, fried and canned fruit and vegetables count towards your five-a-day target.
What is limited?
Fruit juices, smoothies and purées made from 100 per cent fruit (no added sugar) count only the once. This is because juices and smoothies are a source of 'free sugar,' the type we are advised to cut back on. For this reason, guidelines recommend we limit our intake to one (150ml) per day.
Beans and pulses also count only the once. This is because, although they are a good source of protein and fibre, they don't contribute the same mix of vitamins and minerals that other fruit and vegetables do.
What doesn't count towards your five-a-day?
Potatoes, yam, plantain and cassava do not count, although sweet potatoes and squash do. The reason for this is that regular white potatoes and yam are often included as the starchy component of a meal, replacing pasta, rice, bread and noodles.
How much do I need to eat?
For adults, one portion is 80g of fresh, frozen or canned fruit or veg, or 30g of the dried equivalent. There is no set guidance on the portion size for children, but a useful tip is to aim for an amount that fits in the palm of your child's hand.
What counts as a portion?
Here's what a portion looks like:
- one medium banana, orange, pear or apple or a similar-sized fruit
- half a grapefruit, pepper or an avocado
- one slice of a large fruit such as a melon or pineapple
- two satsumas, two plums or similar sized fruit
- a handful of grapes
- two handfuls of blueberries or raspberries
- one heaped tablespoon of dried fruit, such as sultanas, currants or raisins
- three heaped tablespoons of vegetables such as sweetcorn or peas
- three heaped tablespoons of any pulse - beans, peas or lentils
- one cereal bowl of raw leafy greens such as lettuce, watercress or spinach.
Why should I eat my five-a-day?
Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables regularly may help to:
- maintain a healthy weight
- increase the body's ability to fight infection
- support the gut
- keep bones healthy
- support heart health and manage blood pressure
- reduce inflammation
- keep the eyes healthy and maintain vision
- aid longevity
- and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Make getting your five-a-day easier with a fruit and veg box subscription. Choose between our tried-and-tested veg boxes here.
Get inspired with our five-a-day recipes.
Enjoyed this? Now read...
12 ways to get your five-a-day
Top 5 health benefits of frozen fruit and vegetables
Top 5 health benefits of canned fruit and vegetables
Top 5 health benefits of dried fruit
30 easy ways to give kids five-a-day
This page was reviewed on 26 September 2023 by Kerry Torrens, registered nutritionist.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
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