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WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Why 5 is the magic number

5-a-day is the NHS recommendation for us all to eat at least five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

The recommendations for 5-a-day go hand-in-hand with the 'eatwell plate' which highlights the types of food recommended for a healthy balanced diet and the proportions for each.

eatwell plate

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) suggests that most adults only manage 4.1 portions of fruit and veg a day, with only 37% having 5-a-day.

The results are worse for children, with only 11% of boys and 8% of girls aged 11-18 getting their 5-a-day.

How easy is it to get your 5-a-day?

Fruit and vegetables help set us up for a healthier lifestyle, and by eating at least five portions per day you will be getting vitamins and minerals, fibre and antioxidants. They may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and can help maintain a healthy weight.

Incorporating 'five-a-day' into your daily diet is simple, but sometimes we just need to be pointed in the right direction. You won't need to make dramatic changes to your diet in order to reach your recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables found in stews and soups all count towards your five-a-day, and so do dried fruit, frozen and canned vegetables. As a general guide, one portion is about a handful of fruit or vegetables, which could be anything from one medium-sized apple to three dried apricots, three heaped tablespoons of carrots or peas, or a large bowl of mixed salad. Fresh smoothies or 100% fruit juices count as one of your daily portions of fruit and are an easy way to help your kids get their five-a-day.

Eating your five portions a day needn't be a chore - the variety of fruit and vegetables to choose from is endless, so there will always be something for everyone. If you find getting your child to eat fruit and vegetables difficult, try making it fun for them to choose what they want in their lunchbox or for dinner. Many people suggest eating 'rainbow' of colours - the more colourful the fruit and vegetables in your meal are, the wider the range of nutrients they contain. Having an assortment of colourful and appealing-looking fruit and vegetables to choose from will encourage your children to want to eat what's good for them. Making a delicious smoothie with a handful of berries and a banana mixed with fruit juice or natural yoghurt is a fun way to help them get one portion of fruit, too.

To help you achieve your daily five, some food brands use their own logo to show how many portions of fruit and vegetable it contains.

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Reviewed on January 13, 2014

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