5 A DAY: what counts?

5 A DAY - Fruit and Vegetables
5 A DAY – Fruit and Vegetables

5 A DAY: what counts?

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY, so it may be easier than you think to get your recommended daily amount.

Fruit and vegetables don’t have to be fresh to count as a portion. Nor do they have to be eaten on their own: they also count if they’re part of a meal or dish.

To find out how much is in a portion, see 5 A DAY portion sizes.

What counts towards 5 A DAY?

As well as fresh fruit and vegetables, the following all also count towards your 5 A DAY.

  • Fruit and vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta.
  • Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. This is because, although they are a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.

Frozen and canned fruit and veg

  • Frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables. Buy ones tinned in natural juice or water, with no added sugar or salt.
  • A 30g portion of dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs, counts as one of your 5 A DAY, but should be eaten at mealtimes, not as a between-meal snack, to reduce the impact on teeth.
  • Fruit and vegetables in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts. You can find the salt, sugar and fat content of ready-made foods on the label. For more information, seeour page on food labels.

Drinks and 5 A DAY

  • Keep an eye on the amount of fruit juice and smoothies you consume. The current advice is to limit consumption of fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day (one portion). Crushing fruit into juice also releases the sugars contained in the fruit, which can cause damage to teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are sugary, so limit these to a combined total of 150ml a day.
  • Diluting with water (still or sparkling) can make 150ml of fruit juice go further, if you’re thirsty.
  • Remember to keep fruit juice and smoothies to mealtimes, to reduce the impact on teeth.

For more details, see 5 A DAY FAQs.

Do potatoes count towards my 5 A DAY?

No. Potatoes are a starchy food and a great source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium.

In the UK, we get a lot of our vitamin C from potatoes. Although they typically only contain around 11-16mg of vitamin C per 100g of potatoes, we generally eat a lot of them.

When eaten as part of a meal, potatoes are generally used in place of other sources of starch, such as bread, pasta or rice. Because of this, they don’t count towards your 5 A DAY.

Other vegetables that don’t count towards your 5 A DAY are yams, cassava and plantain. They are also usually eaten as starchy foods.

Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count towards your 5 A DAY, because they are usually eaten in addition to the starchy food part of the meal.

Potatoes play an important role in your diet, even if they aren’t cooked with salt or fat, even if they don’t count towards your 5 A DAY. It’s best to eat them without any added salt or fat.

They’re also a good source of fibre, so leave the skins on where possible, to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins. For example, if you’re having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, make sure you eat the skin too.

5 A DAY: a wide variety

To get the most from your five portions, eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

For 5 A DAY recipe ideas, see 5 A DAY recipes.

For more information about a healthy, balanced diet, see Food and diet.55