Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are power-packed foods - they are full of valuable nutrients which have lots of health benefits, including:

  • Fruits give us plenty of  fibre, vitamins, minerals , including folate, potassium and vitamins A and C. and phytochemicals (which give the colour)
  • A healthy intake of fruit and vegetables helps to protect against major illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.
  • Most fruit and vegetables are low in energy (kilojoules/calories) and are filling, which may help us in maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a range of coloured fruits and vegetables provides antioxidants, which work together to protect our bodies  

Which foods are in this group?

All fruit and vegetables - fresh, frozen, canned (in natural juice), dried and juiced - are part of this food group.

How much do we need to eat?

Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.  This means at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables.  Typical serving sizes are listed below, but the amount which fits into the palm of your hand is a handy measure for fruit, e.g. 2 apricots for an adult, 1 for a small child.

Typical serving sizes:

Fruit examples Vegetable examples
1 apple, pear, orange 1 medium potato or kumara
2 small apricots or plums 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup fresh fruit salad 1/2 cup salad
1/2 cup stewed, canned or frozen fruit 1 tomato
1 cup fruit juice (250ml)*  
1 tablespoon dried fruit*  

* Fruit juice and dried fruit contain far more sugar than fresh fruit - have no more than one serving per day.

Tips for eating fruit and vegetables

  • Take fruit to work or school for a convenient and healthy snack
  • Eat seasonally - the fruit and vegetables are cheapest and taste the best when they are in season (visit the website below for a list of which products which are in season now)
  • Cook vegetables as quickly as possible as the vitamins they contain are destroyed by cooking. Steaming or microwaving is quicker than boiling and will help preserve the vitamins
  • Make a smoothie by blending fruit with yoghurt and milk
  • Try to incorporate fruit or vegetables into every meal:
    • top breakfast cereal with fruit - fresh, canned, dried
    • add some tomato, cucumber, grated carrot or lettuce to a sandwich
    • extra vegetables can make a tasty addition to casseroles and stews
    • capsicum, mushrooms, spinach or rocket add flavour and colour on top of a pizza
    • add salad to a meal if it doesn’t contain vegetables. Aim to cover half your dinner plate with vegetables or salad

More information

Click the links to read the following resources 25 easy ways to get more fruit & 25 easy ways to get more veges

For more information about fruit and vegetables, visit www.5aday.co.nz and www.vegetables.co.nz 

Click to view the page references

Page Reviewed April 2013