5 A DAY FAQs

Do you have a question about 5 A DAY? We answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q: Does the fruit and veg have to be fresh?
A: No. Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned and dried fruit and vegetables all count towards your five portions.

Aim for at least five portions (a total of 400g) of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day.

Q: How much is one portion of fruit for adults?
A: One portion of fruit is approximately 80g, which could be half a large grapefruit, a slice of melon or two satsumas.

One portion of dried fruit is around 30g: this is the equivalent of 80g of whole fruit. One 30g portion could be three dried apricots or one tablespoon of raisins.

A 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as a portion.

Portion sizes are different for children and depend on their age and size. As a rough guide, one portion is the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.

To learn more about portion size, go to 5 A DAY portion sizes.

Q: How much is one portion of vegetables for adults?
A: One portion of vegetables for adults is approximately 80g.

This could be three heaped tablespoons of cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn, or one cereal bowl of mixed salad. Children require different portion sizes, but as a rough guide one serving is the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.

Three heaped tablespoons of beans and other pulse vegetables, such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, count as one portion. Beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you eat. This is because, while pulses contain fibre, they don't give the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as fruit and vegetables.

Q: Do potatoes count?
A: Potatoes, yams, cassava and plantain are vegetables but don't count towards your 5 A DAY. This is because they contribute mainly starch to your diet.

Other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips, are usually eaten as a vegetable alongside the main starchy food in a meal. These count towards your fruit and veg portions.

Learn more about a healthy balanced diet at The eatwell plate.

Q: Do juices and smoothies count?
A: One 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice can count as a portion. But only one glass counts, further glasses of juice don't count toward your total 5 A DAY portions.

One smoothie containing all the edible pulped fruit or vegetable may count as more than one 5 A DAY portion, but this depends on the quantity of fruits or vegetables and/or juice used, as well as how the smoothie has been made.

For a single smoothie to qualify as being two portions, it must contain either:

  • at least 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 150ml of a different variety of 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice, or
  • a minimum of 80g of one variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable and at least 80g of another variety of whole fruit and/or vegetable.

Smoothies can only count as a maximum of two of your 5 A DAY, however much you drink.

Q: Can I just eat five portions of my favourite fruit or vegetable?
A: To get the maximum benefits, you need to eat different types of fruit and vegetables. This is because different fruit and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, minerals and other nutrients. Aim to include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in your 5 A DAY to get the most nutritional benefit.

Q: Do the fruit and vegetables in takeaways count towards my 5 A DAY?
A: They can count towards your 5 A DAY. However, takeaways and other ready-made convenience foods can be high in added fat, salt and sugar, so only eat them occasionally or in small amounts. To find out the fat, salt and sugar content of many ready-made meals, check the label. For more information, go to Food labels.

Q: Do vitamin pills or other dietary supplements count towards my 5 A DAY?
A: No. Taking dietary supplements does not have the same health benefits as eating more fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain additional beneficial substances, such as fibre. For most adults, a healthy and balanced diet containing at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day will contain all the nutrients needed. Some people are advised to take a supplement by their doctor, as well as eating a varied, balanced diet. For example, women who are trying to conceive or who are likely to become pregnant are advised to take a daily 400-microgram supplement of folic acid until the 12th week of pregnancy. You can learn more about supplements during pregnancy, and about free Healthy Start vitamin supplements, at the Vitamin supplements page of Healthy Start website.

Q: Can I give my baby fruit and vegetables during weaning?
A: Pureed fruit and vegetables make ideal weaning foods and are easy to prepare. Weaning is an ideal time to introduce your baby gradually to a variety of fruit and vegetables so that, by the age of one year, their diet is mixed and varied. You can learn more at the Healthy Start website.