The truth is that a majority of American’s do not consume enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Until recently, the ‘My Pyramid’ image was utilized to explain how many servings of each food group we should consume. In 2011, there was a new image called ‘MyPlate,’ created to help individuals understand exactly how many fruits and vegetables they should eat each day.
Everyone requires different servings. To make it simple, half of your daily consumption should be fruits and vegetables. It is important to choose a wide variety of these foods and not focus on one specific item. When choosing fruits and vegetables it is important to ‘eat the rainbow.’ By choosing a variety of colors you guarantee that you will consume a wide variety of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Women should consume about 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day and men 3 cups per day. However, this is just an estimate and may be increased or decreased depending on how many calories are typically consumed in one day, as well as activity level. Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, dried/dehydrated. They can be prepared whole, cut up or mashed.
Women should consume 1 ½ cups of fruit and men 2 cups of fruit per day. These fruits can be fresh, frozen or canned, but it is important to choose fruits without added sugar or sauces. Avoid fruit juices as they provide empty calories, a lot of sugar and are often lacking the fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found when consuming the entire piece of fruit. It can be eaten whole, cut up or pureed.
Why should we eat fruits and vegetables?
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and certain types of cancer. These foods may even help lower blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and provide a lot of nutrition for very little calories. This can help with weight loss.
Fruits are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate. Vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A. Dark leafy greens are rich in iron and magnesium. These are just a few examples of the vitamins and minerals contained in fruits and vegetables. To reach maximum health potential, choose from a wide variety each day.
Try this recipe at home for a great way to combine fruits and vegetables into one healthy meal!
Tomato, Watermelon and Arugula Salad