It’s true that most people are too narrow in their vegetable choices and should mix it up. That’s why current dietary guidelines recommend specific subgroups – dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas (legumes) and starchy vegetables. In fact, 5 cups of starchy vegetables per week are recommended for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet."
The average American consumes just 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a diet containing abundant fruits and vegetables lowers your risk for many serious disorders, including heart disease and stroke. It indicates that people who consume five servings of fruit and vegetables daily are 20 percent less likely to develop these problems than those who eat few of these foods. A fruit- and vegetable-rich diet also lowers your risk of developing high blood pressure, a condition that over time can seriously damage your cardiovascular system. Because fruits and vegetables are generally high in fiber, they also benefit your gastrointestinal system by helping move food through your intestines, keeping your stool soft and preventing constipation and other intestinal disorders.
Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (2014) has found eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day will ward off the risk of all death-related causes by almost half.
Here are the recommendations from the organizations noted for the daily number of fruits and vegetables Americans should consume:
American Heart Association – 4 to 5 servings of fruits and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables
USDA Food Guide Pyramid - 3 to 5 servings of vegetables, 2 to 4 servings of fruits
American Cancer Society – 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
Dietary Guidelines for Americans – 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables
Diabetes Food Pyramid developed by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association – 3 to 4 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
Here are some easy ways to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet:
1) Make a fruit salad – Include a variety of colorful fruits which will count as more than one serving.
2) Make a bowl of fruit part of your décor – As you pass by, you’ll find yourself munching on a variety of healthy snacks.
3) Boost your breakfast by including fruit in your smoothie, on your pancakes, or in your hot/cold cereal.
4) Throw some veggies in the skillet – When making an omelet or potato dish, add tomatoes, onions, green peppers, broccoli or whatever you have on hand.
5) Make a green salad every day – Load your salad up with as many veggies as you want. Instead of iceberg lettuce, use spinach or romaine lettuce as they have a much higher nutrient content.
6) Pair fruit with cheese for a snack or dessert – Pears, apples, and grapes are fruits that go well with cheese.
7) Munch on dried fruit as a snack between meals.
8) Make a veggie kabob for the grill - Include eggplant, bell peppers, and squash. Firmer vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli and carrots may require precooking in the microwave.
9) Stir extra veggies into your soup, on your pizza, and in your casseroles.
10) Have prepared fruits and veggies ready to go in the fridge using easy access containers.
11) Introduce your family to one new fresh fruit or vegetable each week –If there is a local farmer’s market, support your community, and pay them a visit. You may discover something you love which will increase the variety in your diet.
12) Include fruit in your dessert – Frozen grapes and bananas are surprisingly delicious. Add fresh fruit to your ice cream or frozen yogurt. Or, my favorite, dip fresh fruit in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
13) Make your own chips using kale, bananas, or apples. See recipes online.
14) Try using Bibb lettuce, romaine, red lettuce or cabbage leafs instead of bread or tortillas for your sandwich. Pile on as many veggies as you like and enjoy the added crunch.
15) Include a wide variety of fruits and veggies in your smoothies – Experiment with something different like kale, spinach, cucumber, mango, papaya, pumpkin, or sweet potato. You can blend a large batch and freeze in single portions.
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