It’s not always easy to remember but here’s a taster of why you should make it a priority to eat your fruit and vegetables. The advice to eat a specific quantity of fruit and vegetables originally came from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is the agency of the United Nations which specialises in health and wellness.

Over 20 years, back in 1991, the WHO first recommended a minimum intake of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approx. 80g, so 5 servings add up to 400g.

The WHO advice is based on many different scientific studies. These consistently confirm that populations with higher intakes of fruit and veg have a lower incidence of heart disease, certain types of cancers and other health problems. The WHO recommendation has been adopted by many European countries to encourage people to include a minimum of 5 servings per day.

The WHO recommendation has been adopted by many European countries to encourage people to include a minimum of 5 servings per day.

The common 5 a day recommendation (that is 2 fruit servings and 3 vegetable servings) is an easy way to remember to eat a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day - to lower our risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Of course, it's best to include a variety of fruit and vegetables in family meals during the week. This is because different fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, and no one kind has everything you need.

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 a day. However potatoes don't count because they are starchier and are better positioned in the carbohydrate rich food group instead. Children require smaller serving sizes, and 1 serving for this age group is roughly the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.

Why Bother?

Private: Number 1

Fruit is full of sugar so I don’t eat any, as I’m watching my weight!

Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than many other foods, so choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables can actually help you manage your weight. Fruit contains natural sugars; the primary one is called fructose. One gram of sugar gives you 4 calories, whereas one gram of fat gives you 9 calories.

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Private: Number 2

I’ve tried vegetables before when I was younger but they were yuck and I didn’t like them.

Remember you have to taste a new vegetable over 10 times before you develop a taste for it, so don’t give up. Keep trying. It’s worth it! Your tastes also develop as you grow and the vegetable you didn’t like before may be the very one you like now. Keep tasting and testing your taste buds.

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Private: Number 3

I don’t have time to take a break at work; to snack and eat my 2 fruits a day.

Well you can still eat your favourite fruits with your meals – instead of trying to make time to snack if you’re too busy. Here are a few easy ways to include fruit at mealtimes:

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Private: Number 4

I take vitamins and mineral supplements every day so I don’t bother about vegetables and fruits. It’s true that everyone needs vitamins and minerals in small amounts for the body to work properly. Vitamins and minerals have many different roles within the body: they assist growth and development, they help the body produce energy from food, they support immune, reproductive and nervous function, and much more.

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Private: Number 5

I think I’m better off avoiding fruit as I have type 2 diabetes. The advice for people with type 2 diabetes is to avoid many foods that are high in added sugar (pastries, biscuits, cakes, sweets, frozen desserts and some juices /squashes). Some of these foods tend to be also high in saturated fat or calories, and lacking in essential nutrients.

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Private: Number 6

I eat lettuce every day in my sandwich so I don’t need other vegetables. Variety is the cornerstone of good nutrition. No one vegetable provides all the nutrients you need for good health so try to vary the types of vegetables and fruits you eat as much as possible – don’t be afraid to try new things – you might like them!

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Private: Number 7

I love fruit juice, so I drink two glasses a day, making sure to eat a couple of vegetables as well. Drinking juice alone is not recommended. A glass of fruit juice (150ml) counts as a serving of fruit, but juice can’t make up more than one serving out of your recommended 5 a day.

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Private: Number 8

Fruits and veg are too expensive and I simply can’t afford to buy them for the family.

  • Buying fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season and very plentiful, usually means you can get very good value for money.
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Private: Number 9

I don’t eat fruits and vegetables because I want to avoid residues. Expert scientific committees set safety limits for all approved pesticides. These levels are based on sound scientific evidence. Eating foods containing residues at levels below the safety limits should not harm your health. Not eating any fruit and vegetables is a bigger risk to your health than eating foods containing low levels of residues, within the permitted levels.

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Private: Number 10

My children used to eat vegetables when they were younger, but they now complain they don’t like the texture of cooked vegetables. If your children don’t eat the texture of cooked vegetables, you can try two things – change the texture or offer them uncooked raw vegetables.

Here are some ways to approach this:

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