By: Nikki Nies
Although, the USDA recommends Americans consume 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, it’s evident with the obesity epidemic not many are attaining said recommendations. Gradual, small changes are better than no changes at all. The UK established a 5 a Day Campaign, recommending 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, which the U.S. has adapted into their own program of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters. Five servings derives from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendation of consuming 400 g of vegetables daily.
Regular, varied consumption of fruits and vegetables are needed to ensure one is obtaining the necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber needed for growth and overall health. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories, may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. This campaign stresses it’s easy to meet this challenge of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables since they come in many forms (i.e. frozen, fresh, canned, pureed or in juice form, etc).
- Add fruits and vegetables into yogurt, soups, stir fry, smoothies and/or salads
- Keep fruits and vegetables on hand as a snack (i.e. carrot or celery sticks, apples)
- To stay budget friendly, buy in season and/or in bulk
- When choosing canned fruits and vegetables, opt for those without added sugar or syrup
- Drinking 1 glass (150 mL) of 100% unsweetened fruit juice counts as one portion of F&V
- Make sure you’re eating fruits and vegetables with a balance of lean protein, whole grains, while limiting excess fat and sugar
- Document what and how you’re eating fruits and vegetables to better know what methods work best for you
- First in, first out (FIFO): use what’s oldest first, rotate stock to ensure freshness and reduce waste
- Store frozen food at zero degrees F
- Use frozen food within 6 months of purchase
- Store canned goods at room temperature
- Store dried goods in a cool, dark place
- Use products by “use by” date
Warning, while yams, potatoes and plantains are vegetables, they’re considered a starchy vegetable and should not be counted to intake of fruit and vegetable intake.
Since fruits and vegetables can be cooked and served in numerous variations, you’re unlikely to become “sick” of eating such essential foods. Only good things can come from eating fruits and vegetables, so, start cooking!