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How to Easily Get Your Daily Dose of Fruits and Veggies

Health & Wellness  (tags: adults, children, diet, disease, health, food, investigation, nutrition, prevention, research, study )

- 1965 days ago -
How the hell are we supposed to chomp down on nine portions of produce each day while still fitting in our protein, grains and occasional guilty pleasures? And what exactly is a "serving" anyway?

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 11:38 am
(Photo Credit: Living Green Magazine)

In Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works,” Larry David’s character complained in a very Larry David fashion, “Christ, if I have to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to live, I don’t wanna live.”

And he has a point. How the hell are we supposed to chomp down on nine portions of produce each day while still fitting in our protein, grains and occasional guilty pleasures? And what exactly is a “serving” anyway?

We’ve always been told to eat about five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and a January 2011 study actually suggested it should be eight if you want to seriously lower your risk of dying from heart disease. We’re with you — eight sounds like we’ll need to stuff our pockets with celery stalks and carrots so we can munch on them all day.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines of 2010 recommend eating 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables a day. (At least they switched to “cups” instead of the pyramid’s mysterious “servings”; for the record, these measurements translate into about nine servings.)

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes a more individualized approach. After all, our bodies’ requirements must differ with age and lifestyle, right? The CDC offers a calculator that asks for your age, sex and amount of physical activity, and spits out how many fruits and veggies you should be getting each day. Click here to find out how much you need.

According to the CDC’s calculator, a 26-year-old female with less than 30 minutes of exercise every day — in addition to the light activity of everyday life — requires about 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.

My recommended 4 cups of produce a day might still sound a little overwhelming, but it’s actually not as bad as it seems.

What counts as a fruit or vegetable? First of all, 1 cup of vegetables doesn’t have to be a heap of raw broccoli. Fruits and veggies can be in the form of 100% juice; raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned or dried; and whole, chopped up or pureed. Yes, guacamole counts as a vegetable (score!).

Examples of 1 cup and ½ cup of fruits/veggies

To give you an idea of 1 cup of fruit — or two-thirds of my daily fruit intake — the CDC has provided these examples:

1 small apple
1 large banana
1 medium grapefruit
1 large orange
1 medium pear
1 small wedge watermelon
2 large or 3 medium plums
8 large strawberries

To get my last ½ cup of fruit, I could (for example) eat:

1 snack container of applesauce
16 grapes
1 medium cantaloupe wedge
½ medium grapefruit
4 large strawberries
1 large plum
1 small box (1/4 cup) of raisins
1 small banana

To get 2 cups of vegetables, I could eat two of these options:

1 large bell pepper
1 medium potato
2 large stalks of celery
1 cup of cooked greens or 2 cups of raw greens (spinach, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
12 baby carrots (or 2 medium carrots)
1 large sweet potato
1 large ear of corn
And I can get that last ½ cup of vegetables from a snack of 5 broccoli florets or 6 carrots.

Applying these guidelines to real meals

It’s really easier than you think — and you might already be getting close to the recommended amount. For example, I have a 13.5-fluid-ounce container of orange juice every morning for breakfast. That converts to about 1.7 cups, so I’m already exceeding my daily fruit intake. However, it’s important to note that the Dietary Guidelines of 2010 state that the majority of an individual’s daily fruit intake should come from whole fruit, since 100% fruit juice lacks dietary fiber.

I usually have at least two vegetables with dinner — say, 1 cup of cooked spinach for greens and 1 large sweet potato for a starch — so I knock out four-fifths of my daily vegetable intake in one meal. A snack of one celery stalk with peanut butter in the afternoon would mean I’m consuming my 2.5 cups of vegetables during the day.

A salad for lunch with 1 cup of lettuce and ½ cup of other veggies can help you meet your goal, and try to choose a fresh and nutritious snack instead of a Snickers out of the vending machine during the week. One of my favorites: A tomato, chopped up and salted — preferably with Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. Sounds too simple to be so good, but I promise it’s delicious.

For illustrations of these servings and more info on how to apply them to your meals, click here.

Why bother?

Americans fail miserably at getting their fruits and veggies — we only consume an average of three servings a day, or about 1.5 cups.

Meanwhile, science has shown that these healthy foods reduce our risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as stroke, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, they provide the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function — not to mention they’re low calorie and low fat, so they fix your hunger problem without adding to your waistline.

And the more you eat, the better. A 2011 study indicated that each additional portion of fruits and vegetables was linked to a 4% lower risk of death, with one serving defined as 80 grams, the equivalent of a small banana, medium apple or small carrot.
**Find some recipes at link in article at VISIT SITE**

By Melissa Valliant for | Living Green Magazine |


Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 11:43 am

I don't know about you, but I do find it easier to think about 1/2 cup of something than a "required portion". Friends of mine that vegetarian often substituent pasta, breads, rice, or potatoes, I like my veggies more than fruit so it's tougher for me to eat a required amount of sweet things each day. Now and again I might like some chocolate, but not so much. I'm very happy with carrots and garlic flavored humus, to me the perfect snack.

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 3:17 pm
I have no problems whatsoever to get my daily dose ( 5x/d either fruit or veggie) thx!

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 6:35 pm
Thanks for the reminders that it really isn't as hard as it sounds to so many Kit in this super-sized serving era!

Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 6:45 pm

When we gals have an evening out, I can never eat the portions allowed in restaurants. I have plenty to "take home" - my doggie bag is for me. We don't need the super sized portions, we need the right amounts of the right foods.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 7:30 pm

That is a great idea. A friend of mine has talked about that. I need to find out more.

Billie C (2)
Tuesday January 29, 2013, 8:46 pm
veggies i have no problem eating more than i need according to this article. fruits are another problem. i'm just not a big fan of fruits. well unless it's tomato season then i get way more than i need since i eat them at least twice a day if not more.

Ness F (211)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 2:44 am
Love my Fruit and Veg!!!

Past Member (0)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 8:22 am
I appreciate the breakdown of how to obtain the right portion/serving of food. Adults can be just as fussy as kids to eat fruits and vegetables so I think these suggestions along with some tips from here: can be applied.

divergent revolution (309)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 8:56 am
Thanks Kit
we will be healthier for the knowledge,especially if we put it to use.

Nancy M (169)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 1:34 pm
It is true that a "serving" is less than most American think. 1/2 cup of something is very little when you put it on one of those oversized restaurant plates.

And I also love V-8, Carrie.

Dee C (229)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 1:40 pm
No problem here..I love my veggies and fruits..The only veggie I don't like is pea's..Other than that I eat every kind of veg/fruit..
I used to make my kids veggie packed or fruit packed pancakes..they love them..I made very strange dishes but started when they were really young to serve them all veggies/fruits..And they loved it..

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 2:05 pm
Noted. Good article with great info. Much thanks, Kit.

greenplanet e (155)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 4:34 pm
Great to eat fruit and veges, ty.

Laurie H (817)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 7:19 pm
So Many Thanks, Kit---great post & ideas---I drink my fruits often with my breakfast smoothies!!! I live on fruits & veggies--- LOVE EM!~

Past Member (0)
Wednesday January 30, 2013, 11:03 pm
Very good. Thanks.

Heidi Aubrey (16)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 2:46 am
I like this clear cut approach.

Honestly though, I have a real hard time getting enough vegetables. Not too much problem with fruit though.

I have to buy and drink, freeze dried organic powdered vegetables. The one I used to buy from quit selling to the public though. I am having a tough time finding another.

What I have done, is ordered a sprouting jar, and I am going to grow my own vegetable sprouts.

Annabelle T (1)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 2:56 am
I love fruit and veg and as I'm vegan, I don't have any problems incorporating enough of these into my diet.

paul m (93)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 6:26 am

Thanks for ...

Ruth C (87)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 7:25 am
Nyack Clancy is right, just juice it.

Craig Maxwell (2)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 10:04 am
Juicing is a great way to get the amount of fruits and vegetables that you need each day.

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 10:21 am

My god son is a nurse who works with people that can not always eat their food and juicing is the only alternative. He says that to get the full nutrition one must drink the juice soon after it is made. Making a few drinks a day, rather than on big batch for the whole day.

Past Member (0)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 12:00 pm
Very convenient and helpful. Thanks!

Winnie A (179)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 12:44 pm
Love my veggies and fruits!

Sharon F (0)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 4:00 pm
Remember to check the sodium content of V-8 juice and all canned/boxed foods. Today I called Kraft to say they should knock off some of the sodium in Triscuits. Ditto for Bush's Vegetarian baked beans. Many products have the 800# on label, so it is a free call and usually does not take much time.

Faye Swan (23)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 4:01 pm
Noted - always good to be reminded! I prefer veg but love berries and juice!

marie C (163)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 5:02 pm
Love my veg but not very good on the fruit trying hard to change

Past Member (0)
Thursday January 31, 2013, 6:43 pm
Can someone please help me out much is one ‘serving’ of bacon?

;) Thanks Kit, some great information.

Elisabeth T (0)
Friday February 1, 2013, 3:45 am
It's not difficult eating fruits and vegetables, you've got all day

Nancy M (169)
Friday February 1, 2013, 8:31 am
V-8, trisacuits and what thins all come in a low sodium version. I prefer that for the crackers. The low-sodium V-8 wasn't very good though. I think much of the sodium does come from tomatoes themselves.

One serving of bacon? Enough to override the low sodium V-8, and crackers.
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