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Fruit and veg


Woman with kiwi Most people know that we should be eating more fruit and veg. But most of us aren't eating enough. Did you know that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg every day?

You can choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. But remember, while potatoes don't count towards your 5-a-day they do play an important role in your diet because they're a starchy food.


How much fruit and veg should I be eating?

avocado pear Lots! Fruit and veg should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. And it's also important to eat a variety. Five-a-day is a good, achievable target. If you count your portions each day it might help you to increase the amount you eat.

But what is a portion?
ONE portion = 80g = any of these
1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar sized fruit
2 plums or similar sized fruit
½ a grapefruit or avocado
1 slice of large fruit, such as melon or pineapple
3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses (however much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day)
3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad (fresh or tinned in fruit juice) or stewed fruit
1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)
1 handful of grapes, cherries or berries
a dessert bowl of salad
a glass (150ml) of fruit juice (however much you drink, fruit juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day)

Getting your five portions a day

pears If you eat one or two portions with each meal and have the occasional fruit snack you might be surprised at how easy it is to eat five-a-day.

At breakfast you could:
  • add a handful of dried fruit to your cereal
  • eat half a grapefruit or an apple
  • drink a glass of fruit juice
At lunch you could:
  • eat a bowl of salad
  • have a banana sandwich
  • have some fruit salad
At your evening meal you could:
  • add vegetables or pulses to your curry, casserole or stir fry
  • serve at least two types of vegetables with your fish, chicken or meat
And don't forget, when you fancy a snack, reach for an apple, banana or perhaps even some dried fruit.

Getting the most out of fruit and veg

Carrots - baby sized Some vitamins and minerals can be easily lost when fruit and veg are prepared or cooked, so try to remember:
  • eat fresh fruit and veg as soon as possible rather than storing for a long time - or use frozen instead
  • don't overcook. Start with boiling water and cover tightly to keep in the steam, because this speeds up the cooking. You could use a steamer or a microwave
  • use as little water as possible when you cook fruit and veg. If you use the cooking water for sauce or soup, you'll recapture some of the lost vitamins and minerals
  • avoid leaving any vegetables open to the air, light or heat if they have been cut. Always cover and chill them. But don't soak, because vitamins and minerals can dissolve away
  • don't keep food hot for too long because vitamin levels start to drop within a few minutes


Why it's important

child eating melon Fruit and veg are good sources of many vitamins and minerals, yet most of us don't eat enough of them.

There is evidence to suggest that people who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers.

And don't forget, fruit and veg are also very low in fat.

Recommendations

pea pod big Eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and aim for at least five portions a day. Try to avoid:
  • adding fat or rich sauces to vegetables (such as carrots glazed with butter)
  • adding sugar or syrupy dressings to fruit (such as stewed apple)