What Counts As Your 5 a Day?

200255645-001_what-counts_377x171Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY, making it easier than you may think to get your recommended amount each day.

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 dishes.
  • Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That’s 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 the ones tinned in natural juice or water with no added sugar or salt.
  • Dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs.
  • Fruit and veg 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, see Food labels.

Drinks and 5 A DAY

  • One glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, even if you have more than one glass. This is mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables. Crushing fruit into juice also releases the sugars contained in the fruit, which can cause damage to teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so try to drink no more than one glass (about 150ml) of fruit juice each day.
  • A smoothie containing all of the edible pulped fruit and/or vegetable may count as more than one portion but this depends on how it’s made. For more details, see 5 A DAY FAQs.

Do potatoes count towards 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 only contain between 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, particularly if they aren’t cooked with salt or fat, even if they don’t count towards your 5 A DAY.

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 benefit from your five portions, eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

Source – NHS Choices

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