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5 A Day

Your Health

Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That's why it's so important that we get enough of them. A few small changes can help you and your family get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

5 A DAY tips

Why 5 A DAY?

5 A DAY on a budget

5 A DAY and your family

5 A DAY recipes

5 A DAY portion sizes

5 A Day FAQ's

5 a day tips

Getting your 5 A DAY is easy. There are plenty of ways to add more fruit and vegetables to your daily meals.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 A DAY at breakfast

  • Add fruit to cereal, porridge or lower-fat yoghurt. Try a handful of berries or a chopped banana.
  • Add mushrooms or tomatoes to scrambled eggs.
  • One glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit juice counts towards your 5 A DAY. Fruit or vegetable juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day.
  • Make a quick smoothie in a blender using your favourite fresh or frozen fruits. A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit or vegetable can count as more than one portion a day, depending on how it's made.
  • Get more healthy breakfast tips.

5 A DAY at lunch

  • Add some crunch to your sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber or grated carrots.
  • Sticks of cucumber, peppers and carrot, and cauliflower or broccoli florets are delicious with dips such as salsa or lower-fat cheese spread.
  • Add fruit and veg to your favourite meals. Try adding chopped carrots to bolognese sauce, sprinkle chopped red peppers on your pasta, or mix veg such as peas into mashed potato to make it even tastier. Add tomatoes to your omelette or mushrooms to your next stir-fry.
  • Add beans, lentils and pulses to stews, soups, bakes and salads. However much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day.

5 A DAY at dinner

  • Have a salad or vegetable side dish with your main meal. If you're having shepherd's pie, have some peas too. If you're having a roast dinner, add some carrots or broccoli to your plate.
  • Frozen fruit and veg count towards your 5 A DAY. It only takes a couple of minutes to microwave some frozen peas, mixed vegetables or mini corn on the cob.
  • Canned fruit and veg count too. It's healthier to choose fruit canned in juice rather than sugary syrup, and veg canned in water without added salt or sugar.
  • It's easy to add fresh, frozen or canned fruit and veg to meals. Sprinkle sweetcorn or pineapple chunks on top of a thin-based pizza, or liven up soups and sauces with a handful of kidney beans, peas or sweetcorn.

Snacks and your 5 A DAY

Why 5 A Day?

Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That's why it's so important that we get enough of them.

The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day. That's five portions of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.

5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Five reasons to eat five portions of fruit and veg

  • Fruit and vegetables are 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.
  • Fruit and vegetables taste delicious and there's so much variety to choose from.

Fruit and vegetables are also usually low in fat and calories (provided you don't fry them or roast them in lots of oil). That's why eating them can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy.

To get the most benefit out of your 5 A DAY, your five portions should include a variety of fruit and vegetables. This is because different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or pure juices. Potatoes and cassava don't count because they mainly contribute starch to the diet.

To learn more about what counts towards your 5 A DAY, go to 5 A DAY: what counts?

Getting your 5 A DAY is easy. In this 5 A DAY section, you'll find lots of advice and information, from portion sizes to recipes and restaurant tips, to help you and your family fit five portions into your daily lives.

You can also learn more by downloading this Just Eat More 5 A DAY leaflet (PDF, 342kb).

Got a question about 5 A DAY?

If you have an enquiry about 5 A DAY that isn't answered in our 5 A DAY FAQs, please email the 5 A DAY team at Public Health England: phe.enquiries@phe.gov.uk.

5 A Day on a budget

It doesn't have to cost a lot to get your 5 A DAY. Here are some cheaper ways to stock up on fruit and veg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read our top tips on how to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet while still saving money.

10 top tips to get 5 A DAY on a budget

  • Buy fruit and vegetables loose rather than pre-packaged. Loose fruit and veg can be as little as half the price.
  • Fruit and vegetables are usually cheaper if they're in season. You can find out what is in season at the Love British Food website's page on seasons.
  • Fruit and vegetables are often cheaper at your local street or farmers' market. You can find your nearest one in this directory of farmers' markets.
  • Replace your morning or afternoon snack with a piece of fruit. A banana or an apple costs around 20p at the supermarket, about half the price of most chocolate bars or packets of crisps. The savings add up and so do the health benefits.
  • Don't throw away vegetables that are about to go out of date. Use them in stews, soups and casseroles, which you can freeze and eat another time.
  • Look for supermarket deals on fruit and vegetables, such as buy one get one free offers.
  • Look for good deals on frozen and dried fruit and veg, such as frozen peas and dried pulses and beans. They are often cheaper than fresh varieties.
  • Swap ready meals for homemade alternatives. Vegetables in dishes such as stews, bakes, casseroles and curries count towards your 5 A DAY, and cooking these dishes yourself is often cheaper than buying them ready-made.
  • Stock up on canned fruit and vegetables. They count towards your 5 A DAY and won't go off, so you can buy them in bulk. Buy canned fruit and veg, in water or fruit juice, without added salt or sugar. Supermarket own-brand varieties are usually the cheapest.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze portions to eat another time. For more meal ideas, go to 5 A DAY recipes.

5 A Day and your family

Do you cook and shop for a family household, including a fussy eater or two?

It's easier than you might think to ensure everyone gets five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many ways to introduce more fruit and vegetables into your family's diet. The wider the variety of fruit and vegetables you eat the better.

Dietitian Azmina Govindji gives a few simple tips and ideas to get you started.

Fruit and veg throughout the day

There are plenty of 5 A DAY opportunities throughout your family's day.

"Not all those opportunities are immediately obvious," says Azmina. "A cooked breakfast, for example, can give you several portions if you have grilled mushrooms, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and a glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice."

Azmina highlights some other 5 A DAY opportunities:

  • Breakfast – if you have cereal or porridge for breakfast, add some fruit, such as sliced bananas, strawberries or sultanas.
  • Morning break at school – all children aged between four and six at Local Education Authority-maintained schools are entitled to one free piece of fruit or vegetable a day, which is usually given out at break time. If your child is older, you could send them to school with a piece of fruit to eat at break time. The School Food Regulations ensure that fruit or vegetables are provided at all school food outlets, including breakfast clubs, tuck shops and vending machines.
  • Lunchtime at school – a school lunch provides your child with a portion of fruit and a portion of vegetables. If you give your child a packed lunch, there are many ways you can add fruit and vegetables. Dried fruit counts towards their 5 A DAY, so why not try a handful of sultanas or a few dried apricots? Put salad in their sandwiches, or give them carrot or celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, satsumas or seedless grapes. A lot of swapping goes on at lunch, so talk to other parents to see if you can all give your children at least one portion.
  • On the way home from school – at home time, kids are often very hungry. Take this opportunity to give them a fruit or vegetable snack. This could be a small handful of dried fruit, a banana, a pear, clementines or carrot sticks. When they’re really hungry, this can be a good time to get them to try foods they might otherwise refuse.
  • Dinner time – get into the habit of having two different vegetables on the dinner table. You don't have to insist that the children eat them, but if you always do, they may end up trying them. Vegetables in dishes such as stews and casseroles also count. Avoid adding extra fat, salt and sugar, and use lean cuts of meat.

Plan 5 A DAY snacks

When it comes to snacks, it pays to plan ahead. "Think about times when snacking happens in your family," says Azmina. "Then think what you can do to replace your usual snack with fruit or vegetables."

Making fruit and veg easy to get to is often helpful. When they're peckish, children will often reach for whatever is closest to hand.

Keep a fruit bowl in the living room. Encourage your children to snack from the bowl rather than hunting for snacks in the kitchen.

Keep fruit washed and ready to eat in the fridge. They'll be more tempting when you fancy an instant snack.

Similarly, keep snack-ready vegetables in the fridge, too. Wash and cut up carrots or celery.

Family days out are prime snacking time. Save money by taking small bags of dried fruit, bananas or carrot, celery or pepper sticks with you instead of buying expensive snacks once you're out.

Get children involved in 5 A DAY

Getting your child involved in choosing and preparing fruit and vegetables can encourage them to eat more.

"Familiarise young children with the colours and shapes of fruits and vegetables as early as possible," says Azmina.

"Each weekly shop, let them choose a fruit or vegetable they'd like to try. Supervise your child in the kitchen while they help you prepare it."

Present your children with as wide a variety of fruit and vegetables as possible and make eating them a normal part of family life.

"If your children aren't keen, canned vegetables, such as sweetcorn, lentils and peas, can be a good place to start," says Azmina. Choose canned vegetables in water with no added sugar, and canned fruit in natural fruit juice, rather than syrup.

Disguising vegetables, by grating carrots into bolognese sauce, for example, can also work, but don't rely solely on this.

 

"Try not to reinforce the idea that vegetables are unpleasant and always need to be hidden in foods. Instead, have fun together by trying lots of different fruit and veg and finding what your children like."

5 A Day recipes

Fruit and vegetables that are cooked into any kind of dish count towards your 5 A DAY. This means that some of your favourite meals can help you get your five portions.

To get started, why not try our healthy fajita recipe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fajita fiesta with 5 A DAY

This meal is ideal for entertaining friends and doesn't need much preparation. Serve with a salad and a tomato salsa if you want some added flavour.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
5 A DAY portions per serving: 2

For the fajitas:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts (diced)
  • 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow pepper (chopped)
  • handful of mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1 packet of fajita spice mix
  • 8 soft flour tortillas

To serve:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • lettuce
  • tomato salsa (optional)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan.
  • Add the onion and chicken. Fry for around three minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the peppers and mushrooms and stir. Cook until the vegetables have softened.
  • Stir in the fajita spice mix. Continue to fry on a low heat.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a mixed salad of tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce leaves.
  • Warm the tortillas in a preheated oven for 3 minutes or in the microwave for 1 minute.
  • Serve the fajitas with the salad and a tomato salsa, if you like.

(V): For a vegetarian version, simply replace the chicken with a tin of kidney beans, drained (choose those canned in water with no added salt or sugar).

Some carrot sticks with lower-fat houmous or guacamole make a great starter.

Use any leftover fajita filling in a sandwich or baked potato.

More 5 A DAY recipes

For lots of healthy 5 A DAY recipes, download our Fuel for Life leaflet (PDF, 607kb).

You can find more 5 A DAY meal ideas, as well as tips on how to fit more fruit and vegetables into your diet, in our interactive 5 A DAY meal planner.

There are lots of healthy recipes that kids will love at the Change4Life website and the Healthy Start website.

5 a day portion sizes

One adult portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g.

The guide below will give you an indication of typical portion sizes for adults.

Download 5 A DAY posters and leaflets

The guide below will give you an indication of typical portion sizes for adults.

Children should also eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. The amount of food a child needs varies with age, body size and levels of physical activity. As a rough guide, one portion is the amount they can fit in the palm of their hand.

5 A DAY fruit portions

Small-sized fresh fruit

One portion is two or more small fruit, for example two plums, two satsumas, two kiwi fruit, three apricots, six lychees, seven strawberries or 14 cherries.

Medium-sized fresh fruit

One portion is one piece of fruit, such as one apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.

Large fresh fruit

One portion is half a grapefruit, one slice of papaya, one slice of melon (5cm slice), one large slice of pineapple or two slices of mango (5cm slices).

Dried fruit

A portion of dried fruit is around 30g. This is about one heaped tablespoon of raisins, currants or sultanas, one tablespoon of mixed fruit, two figs, three prunes or one handful of dried banana chips.

Tinned fruit in natural juice

One portion is roughly the same quantity of fruit that you would eat for a fresh portion, such as two pear or peach halves, six apricot halves or eight segments of tinned grapefruit.

5 A DAY vegetable portions

Green vegetables

Two broccoli spears or four heaped tablespoons of cooked kale, spinach, spring greens or green beans count as one portion.

Cooked vegetables

Three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables, such as carrots, peas or sweetcorn, or eight cauliflower florets count as one portion.

Salad vegetables

Three sticks of celery, a 5cm piece of cucumber, one medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes count as one portion.

Tinned and frozen vegetables

Roughly the same quantity as you would eat for a fresh portion. For example, three heaped tablespoons of tinned or frozen carrots, peas or sweetcorn count as one portion each. Choose those canned in water, with no added salt or sugar.

Pulses and beans

Three heaped tablespoons of baked beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, butter beans or chickpeas count as one portion each. Remember, however much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day.

Potatoes

Potatoes don't count towards your 5 A DAY. This is the same for yams, cassava and plantain too. They are classified nutritionally as a starchy food, because when eaten as part of a meal they are usually used in place of other sources of starch, such as bread, rice or pasta. Although they don't count towards your 5 A DAY, potatoes do play an important role in your diet as a starchy food. You can learn more in 5 A DAY: what counts?

5 A DAY in juices and smoothies

One 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice can count as a portion. But only one glass counts, so further glasses of juice don't count towards your total 5 A DAY portions. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so try to drink no more than one glass (about 150ml) of fruit juice each day.

A smoothie containing all the edible pulped fruit or vegetable may count as more than one 5 A DAY portion, but this depends on the quantity of fruits or vegetables or juice used, as well as how the smoothie has been made.

For example, for a single smoothie to qualify as being two portions, it must contain either:

  • at least 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 150ml of a different variety of 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice, or
  • at least 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 80g of another variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable

Sugars are released from fruit when it's juiced or blended, and these sugars can cause damage to teeth. Whole fruits are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugars are contained within the structure of the fruit.

5 A DAY and ready-made foods

Fruit and vegetables contained in shop-bought ready-made foods can also count toward your 5 A DAY.

Always read the label. Some ready-made foods contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts as part of a healthy balanced diet. You can find out more in Food labels.

Got a question about 5 A DAY?

If you have a question that isn't answered in our 5 A DAY FAQs, please email the 5 A DAY team at Public Health England: phe.enquiries@phe.gov.uk.

5 A Day FAQ's

Do you have a question about 5 A DAY? We answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the fruit and veg have to be fresh?
How much is one portion of fruit for adults?
How much is one portion of vegetables for adults?
Do potatoes count towards my 5 A DAY?
Do juices and smoothies count towards my 5 A DAY?
Can I just eat five portions of my favourite fruit or vegetable?
Do the fruit and vegetables in takeaways count towards my 5 A DAY?
Do vitamin pills or other dietary supplements count towards my 5 A DAY?
Can I give my baby fruit and vegetables during weaning?

Q: Does the fruit and veg have to be fresh?

A: No. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced fruit and vegetables all count towards your five portions.

Aim for at least five portions (a total of 400g) of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day.

Q: How much is one portion of fruit for adults?

A: One portion of fruit is approximately 80g, which could be half a large grapefruit, a 5cm slice of melon or two satsumas.

One portion of dried fruit is around 30g: this is the equivalent of 80g of whole fruit. One 30g portion could be three dried apricots or one tablespoon of raisins.

A 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as a portion.

Portion sizes are different for children and depend on their age and size. As a rough guide, one portion is the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.

To learn more about portion sizes, go to 5 A DAY portion sizes.

Q:  How much is one portion of vegetables for adults?

A: One portion of vegetables for adults is approximately 80g.

This could be three heaped tablespoons of cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn, or one cereal bowl of mixed salad. Children require different portion sizes, but as a rough guide one serving is the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.

Three heaped tablespoons of beans and other pulse vegetables, such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, count as one portion. Beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you eat. This is because while pulses contain fibre, they don't give the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as other fruit and vegetables.

Q: Do potatoes count as one of my 5 A DAY?

A: Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are vegetables but don't count towards your 5 A DAY. This is because they contribute mainly starch to your diet.

Other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips, are usually eaten as a vegetable alongside the main starchy food in a meal. These count towards your fruit and veg portions.

Learn more about a healthy balanced diet at The eatwell plate.

Q: Do juices and smoothies count towards my 5 A DAY?

A: One 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice can count as a portion. But only one glass counts, so further glasses of juice don't count towards your total 5 A DAY portions.

A smoothie containing all the edible pulped fruit or vegetable may count as more than one 5 A DAY portion, but this depends on the quantity of fruits or vegetables or juice used, as well as how the smoothie has been made.

For example, for a single smoothie to qualify as being two portions, it must contain either:

  • at least 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 150ml of a different variety of 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice, or
  • a minimum of 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 80g of another variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable

Find out more about healthy drinks.

Q: Can I just eat five portions of my favourite fruit or vegetable?

A: To get the maximum benefits, you need to eat different types of fruit and vegetables. This is because different fruit and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, minerals and other nutrients. Aim to include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in your 5 A DAY to get the most nutritional benefit.

Q: Do the fruit and vegetables in takeaways count towards my 5 A DAY?

A: Yes, they can count towards your 5 A DAY. However, takeaways and other ready-made convenience foods can be high in added fat, salt and sugar, so only eat them occasionally or in small amounts. To find out the fat, salt and sugar content of many ready-made meals, check the label.

For more information, see Food labels and Healthier takeaways.

Q: Do vitamin pills or other dietary supplements count towards my 5 A DAY?

A: No. Taking dietary supplements does not have the same health benefits as eating more fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain additional beneficial substances, such as fibre. For most adults, a healthy and balanced diet containing at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day will contain all the nutrients needed.

Some people are advised to take a supplement by their doctor, as well as eating a varied, balanced diet. For example, women who are trying to conceive or who are likely to become pregnant are advised to take a daily 400 microgram supplement of folic acid until the 12th week of pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Find out more about vitamin supplements in pregnancy and read our special report on supplements (PDF, 3.9Mb).

Q: Can I give my baby fruit and vegetables during weaning?

A: Puréed, mashed or soft pieces of fruit and vegetables make ideal foods to give your baby when they start having solid foods and are easy to prepare. Weaning is an ideal time to gradually introduce your baby to a variety of fruit and vegetables so that by the time they are one year old, their diet is mixed and varied. You can learn more in Your baby's first solid foods.

 

 

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