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|Valerie Lawson - Exercise Physiologist|
Did you know that 5-A-Day is the minimum suggested intake of fruits and vegetables? The new recommendation is based on health benefits from consuming 5 to 9 servings a day. This recommendation comes from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the growing evidence of research that supports the important role fruits and vegetables play in health promotion. It might be a full time job for many to determine:
- how to incorporate this many fruits and vegetables into their diet,
- where to begin, and
- what is a serving.
Research continues to indicate that fruit and vegetable consumption is imperative to good health, the prevention of disease, and the treatment of many chronic conditions. When most of us review our daily diet, we realize that we must double our intake of fruits and vegetables every day to meet 5 to 9 servings. Fruits and vegetables can really boost anyone’s diet with regards to weight management, reducing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and some cancers, and/or protecting your health through the increased consumption of phytochemicals (usually related to color: yellow-orange, green, red, blue-purple, and white). Thus, any way you slice it, fruits and vegetables work together to promote good health.
How can you begin to estimate your current intake? On a daily basis, begin writing down what you eat. Note any vegetables or fruits that might be hidden, such as vegetables in marina sauce or soup, or fruit in your cereal or yogurt. A typical serving of fruit or vegetable can usually fit in the palm of your hand. Simple serving size reminders include:
- ½ cup of cut up fruit or vegetables
- ½ cup of cooked beans (black, kidney, pinto) or peas
- 1 cup of raw salad greens (romaine, spinach or arugula)
- 1 medium size piece of fruit (apple, orange)
- 1 small banana
- ¼ cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or prunes)
- ¾ cup or 6 ounces of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- a salad is normally at least 2 servings
After recording your intake for a week, review your daily totals of fruits and vegetables. Use these numbers as a guide or baseline of what you are consuming on average and then begin to build on your current intake.
How can you get more bang for your buck with your fruit and vegetable intake?
- Add vegetables to all of your meals, and experiment with vegetables as the main course. Read labels to ensure that your serving of fruit and/or vegetable count towards a healthy diet by containing the most vitamins, nutrients and fiber in each serving. If the label indicates added sugar, salt, or less than 1 gram of fiber per serving, it might not be the best fruit or vegetable choice.
- Choose foods that increase your nutritional intake, including vegetables with more potassium (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products, beets, greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils and kidney beans).
- Select foods with less sodium, and make your own seasonings or sauces to reduce the added salt. Try preparing more foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium intake. Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged or processed foods.
- Find fruit selections that do not have added sugar, such as fresh fruits, frozen fruit without additives, and canned fruit in its own juices. Avoid items that contain added sugar (fructose corn syrup), including fruit juices, bottled smoothies, fruit 'ade' drinks (lemonade, limeade), or 'fruit' based snacks (fruit roll-ups or gummies).
- Start by adding one more serving of a fruit or vegetable each day for a few weeks. Then gradually continue to incorporate more into your diet. As you get closer to 5-A-Day, try to add one addition of each (fruit and vegetable) and see how close you can get to 9 servings.
Please send your comments and feedback to Gillian Goodfriend at email@example.com.
|Healthy 'Green' Wrap|
|24 spears asparagus|
|1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled|
|1 tablespoon lime juice|
|1 clove garlic, minced|
|1 1/2 cups cooked cold long-grain white rice|
|3 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt|
|3 whole wheat tortillas, 10 inches in diameter|
|1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves|
|2 tablespoons chopped red onion|
Makes 6 servings.