“Eat your fruits and vegetables!”
“Eating spinach will make you strong like Popeye!”
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
It’s important to eat fruits and vegetables. This message has been told to us hundreds of times throughout our lives. We all know it’s good for us to eat more of the green stuff (and the purple, red, orange, yellow stuff, too!). So why is it so hard to actually do it?
The USDA Dietary Guidelines suggests that adults eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This is a great starting point. However, research has shown that people receive the most health benefits by eating 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day*. In a recent study, those who ate 10 servings per day had reduced incidence of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and premature death. That’s a pretty good incentive to eat your fruits and veggies! Not surprisingly, most of us do not reach the goal of 5 servings, let alone 10. So what is a serving, and how can we reach this goal of 10 fruits and veggies per day?
What is a serving?
That depends on what you're eating. For fruit, 1 serving is a medium sized piece of whole fruit. A typical banana (6-8 inches) is 2 servings of fruit. If you're eating berries, one serving is about 1/2 a cup. Four ounces of 100% fruit juice counts as a serving too, but eating whole fruit is better because the fiber makes you feel more full.
For vegetables, one serving is 1 cup of raw veggies or ½ cup cooked. Vegetable juice is the same as fruit juice; 1 serving is 4 ounces of juice, but eating the veggies raw is better for you (because, fiber!).
How can I eat 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day?
This is a tough one! It’s hard to eat enough of the good stuff without some planning. Here are some ideas to get you on the right track:
-Start your day off with a smoothie packed with fruits, spinach, kale, and other veggies! Pro tip: add cauliflower to your next smoothie (we promise you can't taste it!).
-Incorporate veggies into your lunch, dinner, and snack staples. For example, add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich, or try dipping red bell peppers into your guac instead of chips.
-Add salads to lunch and dinner, and make them exciting by adding in yummy dried fruit (1/4 cup counts as a serving!).
-Condiments count! Salsa is a great tasting way to add more veggies into your day.
*Aune, D., Giovannucci, E., et al. (2017). Fruit and Vegetable Intake and the Risk fo Cardiovascular Disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality – a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(3).
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