Five a Day

Fruit and vegetables help as part of a healthier lifestyle. There is a large variety to choose from, seasonal fruit and vegetables are full of taste vitamins & minerals.

You should have a combination of a variety of fruit and vegetables. You only need have a total of 5 portions which can be a combination of fruit and vegetables.

5 reasons to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables A DAY

  • They are full of vitamins and minerals.
  • They can help you stay a healthy weight.
  • They are an excellent source of fibre and antioxidants.
  • They help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
  • They taste delicious and there is a large variety to choose from.

What is a portion?

Most portions equate to approximately 80grams or 3ounces. The following will give you an idea without having to weigh everything you eat:

Fresh fruit:

2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi fruit, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries, 6 lychees, 1 apple, banana, pear, orange, nectarine, or 1 sharon fruit, half a grapefruit, 1 slice of papaya, 1 slice of melon (5cm/2 inch slice), 1 large slice of pineapple, 2 slices of mango (5cm/2 inch slices)

Dried fruit:

1 tablespoon of raisins, currants, sultanas or mixed fruit, 2 figs, 3 prunes, 1 handful of banana chips

Tinned fruit:

Almost the same quantity of fruit that you would eat as a fresh portion: 2 pear or peach halves, 6 apricot halves, 8 segments of tinned grapefruit


Only 1 portion of fruit juice counts per day. A glass (150ml) of 100% juice (fruit or vegetable juice or smoothie) counts as 1 portion, this is because fruit juice contains very little fibre. Also, the juicing process 'squashes' all the natural sugars out of the cells that normally contain them, which can be harmful for teeth - especially if you drink a lot of it in between meals. Fruit juices can also be high in calories so be careful if you diet is based on calorie counting.

Quick guide to vegetable portions:

Green vegetables:

2 broccoli spears, 8 cauliflower florets, 4 heaped tablespoons of kale, spring greens or green beans

Cooked tinned or frozen vegetables:

3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas or sweet corn

Salad vegetables:

3 sticks of celery, 2 inch piece of cucumber, 1 medium tomato, 7 cherry tomatoes

Pulses and beans:

Only 1 portion of beans or pulses count per day no matter how many you eat the portion size is the same as other vegetables 3 heaped tablespoons. This can be any of the following baked beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, cannelloni beans, butter beans or chick peas.

Potatoes and other related root vegetables:

Because they are considered a 'starchy' food, potatoes don't count towards your 5 A DAY. See the section on healthy eating for more information about eating these as part of a healthy diet.

The above is a quick guide to portion sizes, follow the information below for more detailed information about what counts as a portion size:

For further information click on the PDF: 5-a-day General Info

Reasons for eating five a day

Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Some experts estimate that eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day could reduce the risk of deaths from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer by up to 20%.

Experts have linked diet to contributing to the development of cancers, and that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is the second most important cancer prevention strategy, after reducing smoking. A government scientific committee concluded that higher vegetable consumption would reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and gastric cancer. There was also weakly consistent evidence that higher fruit and vegetable consumption would reduce the risk of breast cancer.These cancers combined represent about 18% of the cancer burden in men and about 30% in women.

One study showed that an increase of 1 portion of fruit and vegetables a day lowered the risk of coronary heart disease by 4% and the risk of stroke by 6%. Evidence also suggests an increase in fruit and vegetable intake can help lower blood pressure.

Other health benefits too, including delaying the development of cataracts, reducing the symptoms of asthma, improving bowel function, and helping to manage diabetes. Some fruit and vegetables are also good sources of folate (such as green leafy vegetables and oranges). All women of childbearing age are recommended to increase their consumption of foods naturally rich in folate and foods fortified with folic acid.

Eating fruit and vegetables can help to achieve other dietary goals including increasing fibre intake, reducing fat intake, help maintain a healthy weight. Fruit and vegetables can be eaten instead of foods with added sugars which will help maintain a healthy diet.

The reason why fruit and vegetables are so beneficial is because of their array of compounds. As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables also contain many complex plant components (called phytochemicals), including flavonoids, glucosinilates and phyto-oestrogens. Some of the vitamins and phytochemicals are also antioxidants, destroying free radicals in the body. These free radicals are known to have a role in causing cancer as well as other harmful effects.

Eating 5 a day is part of a worldwide message and is consistent with dietary recommendations around the world, including those from the World Health Organization.