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Fruit and vegetables

Why are fruits and vegetables so important?

Not only are the colourful and add flavour and texture to our diet, fruit and veg are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre to help keep us healthy.

Children aged over 5 years need 5 portions each day. Younger children can eat fruits and vegetables as often but in smaller amounts. If you or your children don’t eat much fruit or veg at the moment, it’s okay to start slowly and increase from one portion this week to two next week and so on. Including some fruit and vegetables at every meal, as well as snacks, helps them reach that 5-a-day goal.

What counts towards your 5-a-day?

Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried all count. A small glass (150ml) of fruit juice or smoothie a day counts as one (no more) of your 5-a-day. Potatoes are counted as a starchy food.

How much?

Fruit and vegetables come in all different shapes and sizes so it can be difficult to know what a portion is. You can find out everything you need to know here:

Guide to fruit and veg portions infographic

A note on juices and smoothies

Fruit juices and smoothies are very popular. One small glass (150ml) can count towards one of your 5-a-day. If you have more than one glass each day it will still only count as one serving of fruit and vegetables a day. The reason for this is that when fruit or vegetables are juiced/pureed they no longer have the same nutrition content as whole fruit or vegetables. The sugar is also released from the whole fruit or vegetable when it’s mashed/pureed.   

Some tips when choosing juices and smoothies:

  • Drink no more than one small glass (150ml) fruit juice or smoothie each day
  • Choose 100% pure unsweetened fruit juices i.e. contain no added sugar
  • Fruit juice is acidic and can be damaging to teeth, so it’s better to drink them with main meals only or through a straw
  • It is best to dilute juice - one part juice to ten parts water – when giving to children
  • Be wary of ‘juice drinks’, they can contain very little juice and quite a lot of sugar
  • Always check the label so that you know what you are buying  
  • Choose smoothies made from fresh, frozen or tinned (in its own juice) fruit
  • Look for smoothies with no added sugar, honey or syrup

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© The Food Safety Promotion Board