Nutritional guidelines recommend the consumption of at least five portions of fruit or vegetables each day for good health. Five portions mentioned here is not the target you should aim for, but the least amount that you eat.

In that case, you may wonder if your daily diet of eating 5 apples, 3 oranges, ½ a watermelon, having vegetables with your meals along with a variety of other fruits and vegetables actually contribute in any real way to the daily recommendation. Consider thus:

  • Fruits and vegetables constitute 80g of an adult’s recommended portion of fruits and vegetables. An easy way to check if you are eating the right amount is to see if the portion is about the size of the palm of your hand. Fruits and vegetables should make up about a third of the food you eat in a day.
  • No matter how many beans or pulses like groundnuts you eat, they never count as more than one portion. This is because although they are a good source of fibre, they contain fewer nutrients than fruit and vegetables.
  • Potatoes do not contribute to your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables because they contain too much starch. The good news though is that sweet potatoes do count and they make great chips.
  • No matter how much fruit juice you drink, it never counts as more than one portion because it is low in fibre. It is not recommended that you drink more than 150ml per day as it is high in sugar. In fact, some nutritionists argue that fruit juice shouldn’t count at all. Smoothies on the other hand count as two portions if they contain whole fruit and vegetables and 100% fruit juice.
  • Dried fruit like dates and raisins count because it contains plenty of fibre. However, the recommended portion size is 30g due to the density of calories and sugar. As a rule you should not eat more dried fruit than you would if it was fresh. So next time you are snacking on some raisins, think of each one as a grape.
  • Onions count towards your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, but a portion is only 80g.
  • Salads only count when you eat 80g worth of a variety of vegetables.
  • You can also combine different fruits and vegetables to make a single 80g five-a-day portion.

And that’s your daily fruit and vegetable intake secret.