Five a Day Fruit and Vegetables Overview
For health reasons and to eat a balanced diet, your child should eat 5 lots of fruit and vegetables altogether per day. Adults are advised to eat 80g of each making a total of 400g and children are advised to try and eat a similar amount or at least 5 portions of their hand size. These are the recommendation of the World Health Organisation. See our handy table below.
Fruit and veg provide your child with lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as a small amount of carbohydrates. Because they contain few calories and are relatively bulky, they can fill your child up easily. This is a great way of helping weight control in your child and to help prevent obesity. Children who eat more fruit and veg tend to be slimmer (see our resources link for proof). Fruit and vegetables can reduce the chances of contracting everyday illnesses but also, as children get older, some serious ones too such as certain types of cancers, heart disease, type II diabetes or strokes.
Try to get your child to eat different types of fruit and vegetables and vary it week by week. This is so they get a variety of different nutrients rather than the same ones all the time. Also it will stop them getting bored of the same tastes. Why not try to grow your own? See our article here on 'GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT AND VEGETABLES'.
Eating together at the table as a family and cutting up fruits and vegetables into child sized portions has been shown to increase child fruit and veg intake significantly. Even though there is pressure in modern day life not to do this, doing it at least some days of the week can make a huge difference to your child's health (see our resources link for proof).
How Much Fruit and Veg Should My Child Eat?
This depends on your child's age, see our chart below with the recommended fruit and vegetable intakes:
|Age Range||Cups per day Vegetables||Cups per day fruit|
|15 - 18||3.5||2.5|
What counts and what does not towards the 5 a day target?
|YES: BEST||YES:OK||YES:POOR||Doesn't Count at All||Comment|
|Fresh fruit and veg||Frozen fruit and veg||Tinned or canned fruit and veg (no added sugar or sodium / salt).||Potatoes||-|
|-||Dried fruit, such as figs, raisins, dates and ultanas||A glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% fruit or veg juice||Plantain||Only one portion per day *|
|Fruit and veg cooked in dishes e.g a pasta dish or casserole||-||-||Yams||-|
|-||Beans and pulses||-||-||Only one portion per day|
|Smoothies with all edible pulp||-||-||-||Only one portion per day|
|-||-||Fruit and veg in ready meals and ready pasta sauces||-||Only one portion infrequently|
Checkout this handy diagram to see what counts: '5 A DAY POSTER GUIDE'.
Fruit and Vegetables Portion Sizes
|General type of fruit or vegetable||Examples making up one portion|
|small fresh fruit||2 plums, 14 cherries, 2 satsumas, 7 strawberries, 2 kiwi fruits|
|medium fresh fruit||1 apple, 1 banana,1 orange, 1 pear, 1 nectarine|
|large fresh fruit||half (1/2) grapefruit, 2 slices of mango (5cm slice), one slice of melon (5cm slice)|
|dried fruit||about 30g (1 heaped tablespoon) of sultana, raisins, currants, 2 figs, 3 prunes|
|tinned fruit in natural juice||same as for fresh (2 peach halves, 2 pear halves, 8 grapefruit pieces)|
|salad||5cm cucumber piece, 3 celery sticks, 7 cherry tomatoes,|
|cooked, tinned or frozen vegetables||3 heaped tablespoons (e.g. peas, carrots) or 8 cauliflower florets|
|green vegetables||4 heaped tablespoons of green beans, kale, spinach or 2 broccoli spears|
|pulses / beans||3 heaped tablespoons of chickpeas, haricot, butter or kidney beans (only 1 portion per day can be counted)|
Interactive Meal Mixer
Try this 'INTERACTIVE MEAL MIXER' from the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS). This is a great way to involve your child in the planning of the meals! There are loads of inbuilt meals to choose from and it really is so user friendly. This will help you meet your five a day.
The program even has the facility to receive shopping lists to take to the supermarket!
Fruit and vegetables are an absolute necessity to healthy growth and development of children. The World Health Organisation strongly suggests children should have 5 portions per day of fruit and veg and this is sensible advice indeed. If you follow this advice and track your child's approximate intake to make sure they are approximately hitting the recommendation, your child is likely to reap the health benefits by being healthier, slimmer, more active and will probably perform better at sports and academically. They will be far less likely to develop certain serious illnesses in later life too.
Create healthy mixes of breakfast, lunch and evening meals with this cool meal mixer. Just spin the wheel and get a suggestion for a whole day's food! You can also create shopping lists in a few simple steps.
"Higher Fruit Consumption Linked With Lower Body Mass Index" report by the USDA Economic Research Service
The link between low fruit intake and obesity is shown in scientific format but surprisingly no link is found between vegetables and BMI. Possible reasons for this are postulated.
This article explains how eating together as a family and cutting up your child's fruit and vegetables can increase their health.
This poster is for printing to help your child keep track of healthier options. Examples of portion sizes are also given.