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Food Pyramid: Fruits and Vegetables

Eat 5 portions a day

Fruits and veggies in a basket

The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc./GID

Nutrition experts are unanimous that we would all benefit from eating more fruit and vegetables each day—a total of at least
400 g (14 oz) of fruit and vegetables (edible part) is the target. Fruit and vegetables provide vitamin C for immunity and healing, and other antioxidant vitamins and minerals for protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

They also offer several phytochemicals that help protect against cancer, and B vitamins, especially folate, which is important for women planning a pregnancy, to prevent birth defects. All of these, plus other nutrients, work together to boost well-being.

Antioxidant nutrients (e.g. vitamins C and beta-carotene, which are mainly derived from fruit and vegetables) and vitamin E help to prevent harmful free radicals in the body initiating or accelerating cancer, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, general ageing, sun damage to skin, and damage to sperm. Free radicals occur naturally as a by-product of normal cell function, but are also caused by pollutants such as tobacco smoke and over-exposure to sunlight.

What is a "portion" of fruit or vegetables?

Some examples are:

  • 1 medium-sized portion of vegetables or salad
  • 1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit
  • 6 tbsp (about 140 g / 5 oz) stewed or canned fruit
  • 1 small glass (100 ml / 3 1⁄2 fl oz) fruit juice

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