It will be no surprise to read that a healthy life-style includes eating fruits and vegetables. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend more of fruit and vegetables a day, this is about 5 servings, that translates into 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables. Also no surprise, many of us need to increase their current intake of fruit and vegetables. Is it hard to eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables?
If you’re like the son of my best friend, eating additional fruit and vegetables may be hard at first, especially when you don’t cook very often, but it does not have to be hard. My best friend’s son basically eats bread and pasta. He has a great variety in sandwiches, but it is all meat, egg or chicken. His pasta dishes were saucy pastas. He drinks a lot of water, no alcohol, but fruits are totally absent in his diet and he only consumes 2-3 times a portion of vegetables per week.
He will have to adjust his diet quite substantially, but it does not have to be complicated. Let’s see how hard it is to incorporate all of that in our diet?
Why are fruits and vegetables so important?
Fruits and vegetables are important in our daily diet, because they contain the necessary vitamins, fibers and other paramount ingredients. When our diet does not have the required amount of fruits and vegetables, we run a higher risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity. The nutrients in the fruits and vegetables may protect us against these diseases.
Fruits offer us the following nutrients: dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Vegetables are an important source of: dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A, C, K, copper, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, and choline.
In choosing vegetables, a selection of vegetables of all five subgroups are required. The subgroups are defined as follows: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other. The various subgroups offer different combinations of nutrients, making it important to consume vegetables from all the subgroups. Like red and orange vegetables provide vitamin A and its precursors; dark green vegetables provide the mostly vitamin K.
What equals 1 cup of fruit recommendations?
- 1 small apple
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 1 large banana
- 1 large orange
- ½ cup of dried fruits
- 1 cup of pure fruit juice (no sugar added)
- 1 cup of apple sauce (no sugar added)
Fruit juice can be tricky; select the pure fruit juice. Juices with other ingredients, as water, sugar will count as ½ cup. Select fruit juice with pulp and if you select fruit from cans or jars, select the ones in water, not in syrup or sugar.
What equals 1 cup of vegetable recommendations?
- 1 cup of carrots
- 1 cup of green beans
- 1 cup of cauliflower
- 1 large tomato
- 1 cup zucchini
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 cup mushrooms, raw or cooked
- 2 cups of raw spinach or 1 cup cooked spinach
Canned or jarred vegetables are a good choice as well. Select the ones without sauces and with low salt content.
Fruits and vegetables are expensive?
There is a perception that fruit and vegetables are expensive. In some cases that is certainly the case, but the key is not to buy more than you’ll need/eat and to buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
- Plan a week menu before you start your grocery shopping. Planning will save you time and money; you know what you need, how much you need and what you’re going it eat when. This will help you eating the fruits and vegetables you need, and you won’t need to think about it the rest of the week.
- Incorporate the fruits and vegetables in the your dishes; a vegetable pizza, a stir-fry, salad (fruit or vegetable), cauliflower rice, pasta with vegetables, soup. Or incorporate them into your lunches. Avocado toast, Tomato Sandwich etc.
- Eat more in than out, so you can determine what’s in your meals and more chance to incorporate fruit and vegetables.
It does not have to be hard to eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.