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5 A Day

Fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and an important part of a balanced diet for kids and adults.

Eating plenty of fruit and veg helps keep us healthy, and may reduce the risk of disease and some cancers.

Here you will find all you need to know about 5 A Day for the whole family.

What does and does not count for 5 A Day?

Almost every type of fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and veg you can think of counts towards your 5 A Day.

So do fruit or vegetables in ready-meals or shop-bought sauces. However, always check the packaging and watch out for high amounts of salt, fat and sugar – or use the NHS Food Scanner app to quickly find healthier swaps.

But some things you might not expect to count actually do, and some things you would expect (or hope) to count actually do not – looking at you, potatoes!

Here is a quick guide to some of the things people ask about most often.

Does not count

  • Potato

  • Yam

  • Cassava

  • Plantain

  • Ketchup

  • Nuts

  • More than 1 serving of juice or smoothie per day

  • More than 1 serving of beans or pulses per day

Counts as 5 A Day

  • Unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies – maximum 150ml, once a day

  • Onions, leeks and shallots

  • Garlic

  • Peas and sweetcorn

  • Mushrooms

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Tinned tomatoes

  • Tomato purée – 1 heaped tablespoon is 1 portion

  • Baked beans or spaghetti hoops in tomato sauce – choose versions lower in salt and sugar

  • Chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans

  • Olives – but they can be high in salt

  • Tinned fruit and veg, like pineapple or sweetcorn – pick versions in natural juice or water

  • Frozen fruit and veg, like berries, peas or spinach

  • Dried fruit (30g is 1 portion) – but it sticks to teeth so keep it to mealtimes

  • Ready-made salad – go for dressings lower in salt, fat and sugar

  • Ready-made soups and sauces – but these can be high in salt, fat and sugar so check the label

Information:

Fruit and vegetables found within other foods and ready-made products, although they may only be in small amounts, still count towards your 5 A Day.

For example, the chickpeas in hummus and falafel, the fruit in fruit yoghurts, the lentils in dhal, and the vegetables in guacamole and salsa all contribute.

However, these foods may be high in fat, salt and sugar so always check the label – or use the NHS Food Scanner app to easily find healthier options.

Why potatoes do not count

Potatoes and other starchy foods like yams, cassava and plantain are usually eaten as the carbohydrate part of a meal, like rice, pasta or bread are.

They're a great source of fibre and nutrients so are still an important part of a balanced diet – they just do not count towards your 5 A Day.

Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips all do count though!

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5 A Day portion sizes

Portions for adults

An adult portion of fresh, frozen or tinned fruit or vegetables is 80g. For dried fruit, a portion is 30g.

Portions for kids

Kids should also eat 5 different types of fruit or veg each day, but a portion depends on their size and age.

As a rough guide, 1 portion of fruit or veg for a child is the amount they can fit in the palm of their hand.

Juice and smoothies

For unsweetened 100% fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies, 150ml is a maximum of 1 portion of your 5 A Day.

That means juice and smoothies only count once towards your 5 A Day, no matter how much you have or how many different types of fruit or vegetables go into them.

So stick to 1 small glass (150ml) a day and keep juice or smoothies to mealtimes, as blending makes it higher in sugar, which can cause tooth decay.

Hi 5!

A total of 5 portions of fruit and veg combined is the minimum number of servings to aim for.

You do not need to eat 5 portions of fruit and 5 portions of veg to get your 5 A Day – although the more the better!

Mix and match

You can also combine smaller amounts of fruit and veg to make up 1 portion.

For example, a large handful of salad in a sandwich, plus 4 cherry tomatoes and 4 slices of cucumber would count as 1 portion of your 5 A Day.

How much is 80g of fruit and vegetables?

Obviously we might not always have kitchen scales to hand, so it's handy to know what a portion looks like. This is a rough guide to help you.

For tinned and frozen fruit and veg, a portion is the same amount as for fresh. Remember to go for versions in natural juice or water.

Fruit

Small fruit

An adult portion of small fruit is roughly:

  • 1 handful of grapes
  • 2 plums
  • 2 satsumas
  • 2 kiwi fruit
  • 3 apricots
  • 6 lychees
  • 7 strawberries
  • 14 cherries
  • 20 raspberries
Medium-sized fruit

An adult portion of medium-size fruit is roughly:

  • half an avocado
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 orange or nectarine
  • 1 pear
Large fruit

An adult portion of large fruit is roughly:

  • half a grapefruit
  • a 5cm slice of melon
  • 1 slice of watermelon
  • 1 large slice of pineapple
  • 1 slice of papaya
  • 2 slices of mango (5cm slices)
Dried fruit

An adult portion of dried fruit is 30g, which is around 1 heaped tablespoon of:

  • raisins
  • currants or sultanas
  • cherries
  • apricot
  • mango

Or:

  • 2 figs
  • 3 prunes
  • 1 handful of dried banana chips
Information:

Dried fruit can stick to teeth so should be only eaten at mealtimes to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Vegetables

Cooked veg

An adult portion of cooked veg is 3 heaped tablespoons of:

  • peas
  • sliced carrots
  • sweetcorn
  • butternut squash
  • mixed veg

Or:

  • a third of an aubergine
  • half a bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 8 cauliflower florets
Green veggies

An adult portion of green vegetables is 4 heaped tablespoons of cooked:

  • cabbage
  • green beans
  • spring greens
  • kale

Or:

  • half a large courgette
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of cooked spinach
  • 2 spears or 8 florets of broccoli
  • 5 spears of asparagus
  • 9 medium okra fingers
Salad veg

An adult portion of salad veg is:

  • 1 medium tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes
  • A 5cm chunk of cucumber
  • 1.5 full-length celery sticks
  • 7 slices of beetroot, or 3 small whole beetroot

Or 1 cereal bowl of:

  • lettuce
  • fresh spinach
  • watercress
  • mixed salad
Cooked beans, lentils or other pulses

An adult portion is 3 heaped tablespoons of beans or pulses like:

  • kidney or borlotti beans
  • haricot beans (baked beans)
  • broad beans (fava)
  • black-eyed, mung, butter (lima) or cannellini beans
  • soya beans
  • red, green, yellow or brown lentils
  • chickpeas (chana or garbanzo beans)
Information:

Beans and pulses only count as 1 portion of your 5 A Day, no matter how much or how many different types you eat.

Why beans and pulses only count once per day

Beans and pulses contain a lot of good fibre and protein, and have a different mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients than fruit and veg.

You can have as many beans and pulses as you like, but they will only count as 1 of your 5 A Day.

Green beans like broad beans and runner beans are counted as vegetables. That means you can have these along with other beans and pulses, and they will count as a different portion of your 5 A Day.

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