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 a variety of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.
5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organisation, 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 (in natural juices without added sugar or salt), dried or pure juices (mealtimes only to protect your teeth), so getting your 5 A DAY does not have to be expensive either. Keep an eye out for special offers and think about how you could include portions into everyday meals. Potatoes and cassava don't count because they mainly contribute starch to the diet.
Aiming for a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet is important because different foods contain different vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
It is important to get your 5 a day. A portion of each fruit and vegetable is about 80g and you should aim to eat a variety of types.
Adding extra vegetables to stews, casseroles and curries is an easy way to count towards your 5 a day.
To help children to eat more of their 5 a day, keep a well-stocked fruit bowl in the living room and encourage them to eat from this rather than eating snacks.
Loose fruit and vegetables can cost half the price of pre-packaged items; useful to remember when shopping for your 5 a day on a budget.
Fruit and vegetables can be cheaper when they are in season: buy carrots and cabbage in the spring and new potatoes in the summer.
Canned fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 a day, as these wont go off, you can buy them in bulk when they are on offer.
Unfortunately, potatoes dont count towards your 5 a day as they are starchy foods (like bread, pasta and rice). However, sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count!
Fruit and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin C and potassium, all of which are needed by the body to remain healthy.
Replace snacks like crisps with an apple or banana, these cost around 20p, less than half the price of a chocolate bar!