Fruit and vegetable

Fruit and vegetables are brimming with fibre, plus a whole range of vitamins and minerals, and because they're low in calories, they make an important and healthy addition to any diet.

Five a day

Scientific studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables may have a lower risk of getting illnesses, such as heart disease and some cancers. For this reason, health authorities recommend that you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day - and it doesn't matter whether they're fresh, tinned, frozen, cooked, juiced or dried.

How much is a portion?
  • One piece of medium-sized fruit - eg, an apple, peach, banana or orange.
  • One slice of large fruit, such as melon, mango or pineapple.
  • One handful of grapes or two handfuls of cherries or berry fruits.
  • One tablespoon of dried fruit.
  • A glass (roughly 100ml) of fruit or vegetable juice.
  • A small tin (roughly 200g) of fruit.
  • A side salad.
  • A serving (roughly 100g) of vegetables - eg, frozen or mushy peas, boiled carrots or stir-fried broccoli.
  • The vegetables served in a portion of vegetable curry, lasagne, stir-fry or casserole.
Top tip
Next time you're shopping, buy one new fruit or vegetable you've never tried before or didn't like as a child. Tastes change and by exploring new foods you'll be giving your tastebuds a treat and doing your body a favour.

So how does this advice translate to real life? How do you make sure that you get your five portions a day? Here's some ideas:

  • Glass of pink grapefruit juice for breakfast = 1 portion.
  • Small pack of dried apricots for mid-morning snack, instead of a chocolate bar or bag of crisps = 1 portion.
  • Side salad with lunch = 1 portion.
  • Sugar snap peas and asparagus, served with main meal = 1 portion.
  • Strawberries with dessert = 1 portion.
Top tip
If you're worried about whether you're getting the right amount of nutrients from fruit and vegetables, add some colour to your life. Many nutritionists recommend eating something green, something red and something citrus every day to guarantee a good mix of vitamins and minerals.

This article was last medically reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks in September 2005.
First published in March 2001.


The basics
Bread, cereals and potatoes
Meat, fish, eggs and alternatives
Fruit and vegetables
Dietary requirements
Cardiovascular disease