The 411 on Fruit and Veg

Written by Brendan Levy, MD

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!

Understanding portions

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a report in conjunction with nutrition experts that recommended each person consume a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this may not be enough. They claim that the recommended portions of fruits and vegetables should be on an individualized basis depending on age, gender and physical activity. Generally this could mean that we should be eating between five and 13 portions of fruit and vegetables a day!

Now before you go and consume the entire produce aisle at the grocery store, you should probably know what a portion actually means. One portion of fruit or vegetable is generally equivalent to half a cup or a cupped handful. According to the August 2013 Journal Maturitus, only 21-37% of men and 29-45% of women over the age of 65 eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. This is hugely problematic as fruits and vegetables contain essential fibers, vitamins and minerals for a healthy lifestyle and can be essential in preventing a number of diseases.

Fruits and Veggies help prevent chronic disease.

Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked to lowering high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, and lowering the risk of eye and digestive problems as well as some cancers. A review of nine studies found that each additional serving of fruit may reduce your risk of heart disease by 7%.

Moreover, another study associates eating apples, grapes and blueberries with having a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Snacking on fruit is also a great way to lose weight. Apples and citrus fruits are the most filling and have fewer calories. However, make sure you eat whole fruits rather than juices. Juicing breaks down the fiber, meaning that you end up consuming more calories and more sugar in order to feel full.

Tips to make eating fruits and vegetables easier

So how do you eat more fruits and vegetables without it feeling like a chore? Here are some ideas: Make it part of your meal – often we have a little bit of vegetables on the side rather than it being part of the main event. Experiment with your cooking! Add veggies to your dishes as ingredients not afterthoughts. Display their glory – the fruit-bowl is not just a decorative object! Having your produce on display makes it inviting and encourages you to eat it! Pick a new fruit or vegetable each week – Variety is the spice of life. When you’re in the grocery store, try something new! It might be scary but go for it! Meatless Monday – or any other day of the week. Cooking vegetarian means you have to get inventive. Play around with cuisines and flavours. Snack! – To your heart’s content on veggie sticks with hummus or fruit. Happy eating!

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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