Published Mon, 2012-02-13 16:17; updated 4 years ago.

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY. That’s why it’s so easy to ensure you get your five portions.

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.

What counts?

The following count towards your 5 A DAY:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • 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 vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta dishes.
  • A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you drink. That's mainly because juice contains less fibre than whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Smoothies. 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. Smoothies count as up to a maximum of two portions per day.
  • Beans and pulses. These only count as one portion a day, no matter how many you eat. That's because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruits and vegetables.
  • 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.

There is more information on what counts towards your 5 A DAY at this fruit and veg questions page on the Eatwell website.

What doesn’t count?

Potatoes are a vegetable, but they don't count towards your 5 A DAY. That's because the main nutrient in potatoes is carbohydrate (starch). When we eat them as part of a meal, they are generally used in place of other sources of carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta or rice.

Therefore, potatoes are classified as a starchy food. Other vegetables that don't count towards your 5 A DAY are yams, cassava and plantain.

However, other root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count.

That is because they are usually eaten as a vegetable alongside the main starchy food in a meal.

A wide variety

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

Due for review February 2013

NHS Choices