5 A Day is any of various national campaigns in countries such as the USA, the United Kingdom and Germany, to encourage the consumption of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, following a recommendation by the World Health Organization that individuals consume “a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers).The recommendation of this minimum consumption was set as a preventive measure against chronic conditions including heart disease, cancers, diabetes and obesity. Although these are diseases more often associated with developed countries, the 400g-a-day recommendation also intends to alleviate severe micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries.
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.
What counts towards 5 A DAY?
As well as fresh fruit and vegetables, the following all also count towards your 5 A DAY.
- Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes.
- Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That’s because although they are a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.
Frozen and canned fruit and veg
- Frozen fruit and vegetables.
- Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables. Buy the ones tinned in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
- A 30g portion of dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs, counts as one of your 5 A DAY, but should be eaten at mealtimes, not as a between-meal snack, as it can cause tooth decay.
- Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts. You can find the salt, sugar and fat content of ready-made foods on the label. For more information, see Food labels.
Drinks and 5 A DAY
- One glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, even if you have more than one glass. This is mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables. Crushing fruit into juice also releases the sugars contained in the fruit, which can cause damage to teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit fruit juice to a small glass (about 150ml) a day from juice, smoothies or both. Diluting with water (still or sparkling) can make 150ml go further, if you’re thirsty.
- A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion, but this depends on how it’s made.