Fruit and vegetable recommendations are in the news again recently following the release of the findings of the latest large study, which has found benefits of 7 portions a day. This new trial has added its weight to the evidence supporting the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption to health.  But many of us still do not consume the recommended daily intake of 5-a-day.

Why 5 a day?

The current guidelines are to consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetable in total a day, this should equate to about one third of your total daily food consumption. This recommendation is based on a number of studies which lead the World Health Organisation to recommend a target of at least 400g fruit and vegetables a day. 5 Portions is considered a minimum recommendation and consuming a variety of different fruits and vegetables is most beneficial.

Why are fruits and vegetables so good for us?

Fruit and vegetables are packed full of nutrients including essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are involved in a wide variety of processes within the body which are essential for our bodies to function and remain healthy.

Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre. Dietary fibre helps maintain a healthy gut and can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer. Furthermore dietary fibre consumption has benefits for cholesterol and weight control.

Fruit and vegetables are usually low in fat and calories, meaning they play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight, fruit and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. With recommendation suggesting that one third of our diet should consist of fruits and vegetables.

Studies such as this most recent trial have demonstrated that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables lower the risk of disease such as heart disease, stroke and cancers.

What is a portion?

A portion of fruit or veg is considered to be around 80g for adults, Often this equates roughly to a handful (or 3 heaped table spoons):

• For fresh, frozen or tinned fruit this means a large handful of berry fruits or grapes, 2 small sized fruits such as plums, 1 medium sized fruit such as apple or banana or half a large fruit such as a mango or avocado. Or a slice of melon or pineapple.

• For dried fruit a portion is 30g (one heaped tablespoon). A 150ml glass of 100% pure fruit juice counts as one of your five a day however only one glass a day can be counted towards one of your 5 a day.

• For vegetables a portion equates to around 2-4 heaped tablespoons such as carrots, peas or sweetcorn.

• 3 table spoons of beans and pulse count as one portion however, like fruit juice, bean and pulses can only contribute to up to one of your 5 a day.

• For salad fruits, one medium tomato counts or a dessert bowl size mixed salad. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes do not count towards your 5 a day.

Fruit and vegetables within dishes or packed foods can count towards your 5-a-day. There are often advertising on the packaging so look out for these, but remember always read the label and you are looking for a portion to be equivalent to around 80g of the vegetable within the dish.

For younger children a portion size is less, but the exact quantity varies depending on age and size. A good guide is for a portion to be equivalent to what they can fit in their hands.

Fruit and vegetables within dishes or packed foods can count towards your 5-a-day. There are often advertising on the packaging so look out for these, but remember always read the label and you are looking for a portion to be equivalent to around 80g of the vegetable within the dish.

For younger children a portion size is less, but the exact quantity varies depending on age and size. A good guide is for a portion to be equivalent to what they can fit in their hands.

Page last reviewed on 20/12/2017

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