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Fact File - Top Tips For Getting Your 5-A-Day

Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre and therefore with such a variety, an excellent source of nutrients for good health. In the UK, a recent government survey showed that only 30% of adults (aged 19 to 64 years), meet the UK recommended guideline of 5-A-Day.

The 5-A-Day recommendation is based on advice from the World Health Organisation, this is the minimum amount, however studies have found that eating more, that is, 7 portions a day have a greater benefit on health such as helping to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, diabetes, stroke and certain cancers, such as colon, stomach and mouth. In fact it is estimated that diet is likely to contribute to a third of cancers and eating fruit and vegetables is the second most important strategy.


What is a Portion

One portion of fruit or vegetables is approximately 80g and therefore it is recommended that 400g a day is consumed, this should be about one third of your total daily food consumption and for a healthy diet should ideally consist of a variety.  

Each portion should be a different fruit or vegetable to count as a portion because by eating a variety of fruit and vegetables this will enhance your ability to eat all the vitamins and phytochemicals that your body needs for health. For children, amount varies with age, but a portion is roughly the amount that can fit in the palm of their hand.


Portion Guide

Below is a guide to portion sizes, aim as much as possible for fresh or frozen. If you buy tinned, choose those with natural juices and limit smoothies and juices.

Potatoes, yam, cassava and plantain do not count, these are starchy foods, but pulses such as beans and lentils do count as one portion.

  • A handful or around 10-12 berries, such as blue berries or grapes
  • One medium sized fruit, such as an apple, pear or banana
  • Two small fruits, such as plums, satsumas
  • Half a large fruit, such as avocado or grapefruit
  • A large slice of pineapple or melon
  • One tablespoon of dried fruit (about 30g) – limit these as they are a concentrated source of sugar
  • Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables
  • A dessert bowl of salad
  • Three tablespoons of pulses eg beans, lentils and chickpeas (no matter how much you eat of these  they only count as one portion as they contain fewer nutrients than fruit and vegetables)


Juices and Smoothies

A glass of unsweetened fruit juice (150ml) can count towards one portion, but no matter how much you drink, this will only be one portion. This is because the juicing removes the fibre from the fruit, is also releases its natural sugars. Always choose unsweetened juices, however whole fruit are a better option.

Some smoothies may count towards 2 portions if the edible pulp of the fruit and vegetable is contained and the amount used in the drink. Again, limit these. Large amounts of juices may contribute to poor dental health due to the release in sugars.


Tips for getting the best of your 5-A-Day

  • Try to eat some fruit and vegetables in their raw sate as cooking and food preparation can destroy some of the nutrients. Alternatively try to steam in minimal water or use the water for stock.
  • Buy seasonal and with less packaging, these can be tastier, cheaper, plus environmentally friendly.
  • Chop some fruit over your breakfast cereal or grab a piece of fruit on the go for breakfast.
  • Leftover vegetables can be blended to make vegetable soups. Add pulses for a wholesome meal.
  • Include mushrooms, tomatoes or add chopped peppers and spinach to scrambled eggs as a cooked breakfast.
  • Bulk up your sandwich with plenty of salad, tomato and cucumber.
  • Vegetable sticks are great for dips, such as peppers, carrots, cucumber and celery.
  • Take fruit to work and have these available to hand for when you are peckish.
  • Vegetables should take up at least one third of your plate at main meals, bulk up on these for your meals rather than meat.
  • Chop fruit in desserts or in some natural yoghurt as a light breakfast or snack.
  • Don’t rely on vitamin supplements, unless you have been instructed to do so by a health professional.
  • Eat an array of colours. A variety will provide you with different nutrient combinations.
  • If you are going out for a meal, choose a side salad, fruit based dessert or vegetable based starter.


This factsheet is intended for adults as a general guide only and not a substitute for professional advice or a diagnosis. If you are on certain medication or suffer from a medical condition, seek individual advice from your health care professional. Date produced August 2015. Date edited April 2016.

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