5 A Day - What Counts

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY. What's more there's no limit to how much you can consume - so the more you eat, the better. It's also good to know that you should eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to get the maximum nutritional benefits. This is because they each contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Besides, eating the same ones every day would be boring.

You probably won't have to dramatically change your diet to reach the recommended amount of fruit and veg you should eat. From takeaways to ready meals, fruit and vegetables can be found in many things you eat, you just need to know where to look.

HOWEVER!! Ready meals, convenience foods and takeaways are often high in added salt, sugar or fat and should only be eaten in moderation - so it's important to check the nutritional information on food labels. Have a look at the following guidelines and you'll soon be on your way to 5 A DAY:

  • Fresh, frozen, chilled, canned, 100% juice and smoothies all count, as do dried fruit and vegetables

  • Fruit and vegetables don't have to be eaten on their own to count. You can also include any vegetables found in soups, stews, sandwiches and other dishes

  • Fruit and vegetables contained in convenience foods like ready meals, pasta sauces, soups and puddings, also contribute to your five a day. However, these ready-made foods can be high in salt, sugar and fat, which should only ever be eaten in moderation, so it's important to check the nutrition information on the labels and packaging

  • Dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals do not count towards 5 A DAY. This is because many dietary supplements don't have the same nutritional benefits as fruit and vegetables

  • Potatoes and other related vegetables such as yams and cassava do not count. This is because they are classified as starchy foods 

Portion sizes

The guide below will give you an indication of what a portion size should be, what counts and what doesn’t.

(These portion sizes are for adults. Children under five should also eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, but the sizes may be smaller.)

Quick guide to fruit portions:

Fresh fruit:

Small-sized fruit: 2 or more, for example 2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi fruit, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries, 6 lychees

Medium-sized fruit: 1 medium fruit, such as 1 apple, banana, pear, orange, nectarine, or 1 sharon fruit

 Large fruits: half a grapefruit, 1 slice of papaya, 1 slice of melon (2-inch slice), 1 large slice of pineapple, 2 slices of mango (2-inch slices)

Dried fruit:

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

Tinned fruit:

Roughly 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


A glass (150ml) of 100% juice (fruit or vegetable juice or smoothie) counts as 1 portion, but you can only count juice as 1 portion per day, however much you drink. This is mainly because it 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

Quick guide to vegetable portions:

Green vegetables:

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

Cooked vegetables:

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

Salad vegetables:

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

Tinned and frozen vegetables:

Roughly the same quantity as you would eat as a fresh portion. For example, 3 heaped tablespoons of tinned or frozen carrots, peas or sweetcorn

Pulses and beans:

3 heaped tablespoons of baked beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, cannelloni beans, butter beans or chick peas. Remember that beans and pulses do count, but only as 1 of the 5 portions, no matter how much you eat

Potatoes and other related root vegetables:

Because they are considered a 'starchy' food, potatoes don't count towards your 5 A DAY. (Starchy foods are foods like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.) We’re not suggesting you don’t eat them, but they should form the ‘starchy carbohydrate’ part of your meal

All adults and children over five years of age should be encouraged to eat a varied, balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and added sugars. This means a diet which includes a wide variety of foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods (such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta), moderate amounts of meat and/or alternatives and moderate amounts of milk and dairy products. 

Top tips

Vegetables 5 A Day

Everyone loves corn on the cob! Buy a pack of mini ones, freeze them and cook them 
Peppers, mushrooms, onions or pineapple on your pizza topping count as 1 portion
Liven up soups and sauces with a handful of kidney beans, peas or corn
Ditch the crisps! Chop up sticks of celery, cucumber and sweet pepper and dip them into salsa or guacamole
Add some crunch to your sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber or grated carrots
Stir in a handful of fresh or frozen vegetables into pasta, soup or noodles
Chop up lots of vegetables and use them in a stir-fry. Quick, easy and super healthy

Fruit 5 A Day

Swap chocolate for apples. They're just as sweet and much better for your teeth or try dehydrating fruits
Eat a piece of fruit or a glass of juice or smoothie every day for a refreshing start to the day
Open a tin of fruit in natural juice for an instant healthy pudding
Don't throw away over ripe fruit - use it to make yourself a delicious Smoothie
For extra sweetness, chop fruit onto your cereal or stir it into desserts
Wash down lunch with a glass of orange juice - a medium glass counts as 1 portion
Make ice-lollies by pouring fruit smoothies, 100% fruit juice or pureed fresh fruit into ice lolly moulds and freezing them.