In this article, you will find information for the general public who are interested in knowing about healthy eating and fruit and vegetables in the diet. At least five portions of different fruits and vegetables should be given daily. About one third of what we eat every day will consist of fruit and vegetables. It is a very important aspect of a healthy, balanced diet as it contains good fiber sources and many essential vitamins and minerals.
Most fruits and vegetables can help improve your health, as their calories and fat are naturally low and there are indications that a 5-day a day may decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.
Variety is important! Different fruit and vegetables contain a number of important combinations of nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins, which our bodies must keep in health. So aim to get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from all the color classes, green, yellow, red, purple, orange and white, to get the best possible health benefits on your 5 A Day!
Why eat these foods?
Different fruit and vegetables contain:
- Vitamin C – important for maintaining healthy body tissues.
- Vitamin A – important for maintenance of normal vision, skin and the immune system.
- Folate – important for normal and healthy blood formation.
- Fibre – helps to maintain a healthy gut.
- Potassium – helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure and is also important for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
All fruit and vegetables – including fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced varieties.
- A 150ml smoothie or a glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable counts, but only as a maximum of 1 of your 5 A DAY.
- Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes, or present in ready meals and shop bought sauces, soups and puddings, can also count
Beans and pulses count as one serving a day at most, regardless of how much you consume because they don’t contain a combination of fruit and vegetable vitamins, minerals or other nutrients. However, the protein, iron and dietary fibres, are lowly fat and therefore included in the group of’ bohemians, pulses, fish, eggs, food and other proteins.
Although potatoes provide a big proportion of our vitamin C intakes, they are not part of the fruit and vegetables group in the Eatwell Guide and do not count as one of your 5 A DAY. Potatoes are included in the ‘potatoes, bread, rice pasta and other starchy carbohydrates’ group.
What is a portion?
What is a portion?
A portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g. This is around:
- 1 medium sized piece of fruit such as a banana, apple, pear, orange or nectarine
- Half of a large grapefruit or avocado
- 1 dessert bowl of salad
- 2 or more small fruits such as plums, satsumas, kiwi fruit or apricots
- A large handful of berries, cherries or grapes
- 2 broccoli spears
- 3 heaped tablespoons of peas, carrots or sweetcorn
- 4 heaped tablespoons of cooked cabbage, spinach or curly kale
- One portion of dried fruit is 30g, and this can count as a portion of your 5 A DAY.
- You only need 30g of dried fruit because the portion size is based on the weight of the fresh fruit.
- This is equivalent to around one heaped tablespoon of dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or sultanas.
- Dried fruit can stick to teeth, which may lead to tooth decay, so it’s best to keep dried fruit to mealtimes and not between meals.
Juices and Smoothies:
- 150 ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice or smoothie counts as a maximum of 1 of your 5 A DAY.
- Have no more than a total of 150ml per day from juices and smoothies combined. This is because when a fruit is juiced or blended, sugars are released which can cause damage to teeth.
- No matter how much you drink, only one 150ml portion will count as one of your 5 A DAY.
Beans and pulses:
- One portion of any ‘pulse’, such as beans, peas or lentils, is 80g.
- This is equivalent to three heaped tablespoons.
- No matter how much you eat, pulses will only count as one of your 5 A DAY.