Most Brits don't know what standard portion of fruit and veg looks like

Cropped shot of young Asian woman choosing fresh organic fruits in supermarket. She is picking a red apple along the produce aisle. Routine grocery shopping. Healthy living and eating lifestyle
People around the world are confused about how much fruit and vegetables they should be eating. (Getty Images)

Scientists and medical professionals have been urging Brits to eat more fruits and vegetables, both in quantity and diversity, in order to improve a number of health aspects - including gut health, weight, and overall wellbeing.

But new research shows that more than half of Britons aren’t sure what a standard portion of fruit and vegetables look like, even though more than three-quarters don’t think they are eating enough plants.

Research has shown that eating a wider variety of plants can support a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn has been linked to a number of health benefits.

The NHS recommends that people eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This is defined by the World Health Organisation as 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, which counts as one portion of your Five a Day.

Dried fruit, in 30g portions, also count towards your Five a Day, as well as fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothies (150ml a day) and beans and pulses (80g).

But for many Brits, it can be difficult to visualise how much a portion looks like, or keep track of how much you eat in a day.

According to an international report by wellness company JuicePlus+, who polled 32,000 people across seven regions throughout the world. Of that, 5,000 UK adults participated in the poll.

It revealed that not knowing what a portion of fruit and vegetables looks like isn’t just a UK problem. Only less than a quarter (22%) of consumers in Europe could correctly identify 80g as one serving of fruits and vegetables dropping to 18% in the UK.

Among the participants who answered incorrectly, more than a third (34%) guessed less than 80g, while 23% guessed more than 80g, and 20% said they didn’t know.

Amid the uncertainty around portion sizes, the majority (75%) of participants said they thought they were not eating the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Among Brits only 24% said they think they eat the recommended portion a day.

But despite this, the majority (73%) of people said they thought they ate a balanced diet. Only 10% thought they did not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and 15% said they use health supplements to contribute towards a balanced diet.

young happy african american man eating strawberries in the studio over pink background
People are aware that eating fruit and vegetables is important to support a healthy diet. (Getty Images)

Although the survey showed a disconnect between what people think they should be consuming and what they are actually consuming, consumers largely knew that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.

About a third (35%) said they associated not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables with mineral deficiencies, while 18% linked it to high blood pressure.

One of the main issues people all over the world have that stops them from eating more fresh fruit and vegetables is affordability and availability.

The research found that more than half of households in the UK said they have experienced food insecurity, above the global average of 43%.

Overall, more than half (54%) of all participants say they eat less fresh produce and more canned, tinned or dried fruit and vegetables because of the cost of living crisis, which has pushed the prices of fresh product up over the last couple of years.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Charles Spence from Oxford University said: “Given the growing realisation of the need to consume a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet, it is helpful to have this kind of cross-country data to track the changing preferences and popularity of different fresh product in different age groups and regions.

“One of the main findings of this report shows how there is a widespread uncertainty about just how many portions of fruit and vegetables people think are most healthy for a balanced diet, and even what constitutes a portion.

“Addressing the causes of this confusion is really important if we are to help people in their desire to eat more fruit and vegetables.”

To help consumers better visualise what the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables look like, JuicePlus+ created the below infographic:


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