5 a day: eating enough fruit and veg

Most of us are not eating enough fruit and veg! In the UK, we are typically eating less than 3 portions a day and only 13 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women meet the recommended 5 or more portions a day.1

Why 5-a-day?

Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables can make a significant contribution towards your overall health. As well as being low in fat and tasting great, fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and ‘phytochemicals'- naturally occurring plant substances that are vital for good health. Having a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet helps maintain a healthy weight, aid digestion, boost your immune system and even reduce your risk of developing a number of cancers and heart disease.

What is a portion?

A portion is equivalent to 80g (about 3 ounces). Use the list below as a rough guide to one portion:

  • 1 medium sized fruit such as an apple, banana, pear or orange
  • A handful of raspberries, cherries or grapes
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses, such as kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • 1 tablespoon of dried fruit
  • 2-3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables
  • A glass (150ml) of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie

*Remember that potatoes don't count as a portion because they're starchy

Top tips to fit the 5-a-day into your day

  • Create a rainbow. A variety of colour not only gives a strong visual impact on your plate, but different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain good health
  • Eat one or two portions with each meal such as a glass of fruit juice or the occasional fruit snack in between meals
  • Keep the cupboard well stocked. Keep a supply of frozen, canned, chilled and dried vegetables and fruits at home
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season for the best taste and value
  • Add some dried or fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal or grab a fruit smoothie to snack on
  • Get creative while making meals more nutritious by adding vegetables, beans or pulses to casseroles and stews, and fruit to desserts
  • Read the label. Fruit and vegetables in convenience foods can count towards your 5 a day but many of these foods may be high in added sugar, salt and fat and should only be eaten in moderation

For further information on eating healthily go to www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/5ADAY.

1. National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Adults aged 19 to 64, Volume 5, 2004. Food Standards Agency and Department of Health.
2. World Cancer Research Fund.