Did y’all see the study that hit the media a few weeks ago? Researchers found that eating
7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day will prolong your life compared to people that eat 1 or less servings per day. In fact, eating at least 7 servings of these plant based food groups per day statistically decreases your risk of death from a number of different diseases (including cancer, heart disease and stroke) by 42%. That’s a number worth listening to.
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and looked at the eating behaviors of over 65,000 people. Before this study, the government, the medical community and most nutrition experts agreed five servings a day of fruits and vegetables (more vegetables than fruit preferably) was the standard we should all strive for. Most Americans eat only 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables combined each day so 5 can seem like a lot, much less 7 servings.
It seems kind of mean to say ‘not only are you not even close to the recommendation of 5 servings per day but we’re actually increasing the goal number to 7 per day.’ Good luck.
Don’t get overwhelmed by your underwhelming intake of the good stuff. The big message you should take away from this study is to:
JUST KEEP EATING VEGETABLES AND FRUITS…. as much as you can, as consistently as you can.
Here is a slew of ideas and encouragements to buy, prepare and eat those colorful, nutrient filled vegetables and fruits. If anything, just take a second to remind yourself that fruits and vegetables not only taste good (if you can read, you can a prepare a tasty recipe) and they are so extremely good for your body.
- Think of fruits and vegetables as medicine for the day. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients inside fruits and vegetables literally go into your body and act as healthy medicine every day.
- 1 serving of a vegetable or fruit might be smaller than you think, which makes eating more servings more doable.
- 1 serving of vegetables = 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or about a cup of raw vegetables
- Salad and leafy greens are one exception 2-3 cups of leafy greens = 1 vegetable serving.
- Don’t count white potatoes as a veggie serving. Potatoes are good for you but they don’t have the same protective effect as other vegetables.
- Here is a link to 20 great tips to preparing and enjoying more fruits and vegetables.
- Hide vegetables in omelettes, meatloaf and soups
- Try to eat a small side salad at lunch or dinner every single day.
- Look at your plate and ask yourself is there anymore color you can put on there?
- For lunch and dinner, make your plate at least half vegetables and fruit and then add the other food groups on.
- Pack portable fruit and veggies for snacks on the go. Just choose to buy them at the grocery store instead of other prepackaged snacks.
- Shred veggies and fruits to make them more fun to eat or easier to disguise baked into breads, pasta, casseroles, soup and even some desserts.
- Try grilling a new vegetable each week for a different flavor and presentation.
- You can easily load up a sandwich or wrap with 1-2 vegetable servings for lunch or dinner.
- Try different herbs, spices and other accents to make the veggies taste new and different.
- Serve fruit and veggie kabobs. Eating anything off a stick can be fun.
- Use this list to find out what fruits and veggies are in season: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-spring
- Take the time to find out how many servings you are actually eating each day. Once you know what your average is, set a SMART goal to increase your daily intake average by 1 serving.
- This study said fresh veggies and fresh and dried fruit are best, but that doesn’t mean unsweetened, frozen veggies and fruits don’t have any benefit.
- Canned fruit appeared to increase the risk of death though, possibly because it is stored in sugary syrup, say the researchers.
- Try to eat more vegetables than fruit each day.
- Fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, followed by salad and then fruit.
- Fruit juice provided no benefit in the study so do yourself a favor and only count your daily servings of the real stuff.
- Lead investigator Dr Oyinlola Oyebode said, “the size of the effect in the study is staggering, but eating a few portions a day is still better than nothing.”
The study researchers concluded, “while you may not be getting your five a day, there’s no reason to give up and stop trying as this study shows there are health benefits for every extra portion of fruit and vegetables people eat.”