Super-simple tips for getting your five to nine servings of
produce a day
If you eat your fruits and veggies, the latest health
studies probably confirm how you already feel-great! A trio of new
studies shows that fruits and vegetables lower cancer risk. A
growing body of medical evidence also links fruits and vegetables
to lower heart disease risk,
strengthens the immune system, better digestive function, and
even asthma and allergy prevention.
If you'd like to get more disease-fighting produce into your
diet, don't be daunted by the recommendation for five to nine
servings a day. It's not too rough to get enough roughage. In fact,
it's easier than you might think. Here are a few tips.
Add them to everyday favorites. Think veggies in the
morning with diced tomato, onion and peppers with your eggs. Mix
berries in with yogurt or sprinkle them on cereal. Almost any
vegetable you can imagine goes well with pasta. "Just sneak in an
extra fruit or vegetable where you can. You can even add shredded
carrots or zucchini to meatloaf," says Marisa Moore, R.D., a
spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Add them in unexpected places. Once you succeed in adding fruits
and vegetables to everyday dinners, put a twist on the more
unexpected entrées. Add grapes or cranberries to chicken salad. Mix
pureed mangoes with barbecue sauces for extra taste and nutrition.
Serve colorful, nutritious fruit kabobs for dessert instead of
fattening ice creams, cakes and pies.
Remember, a little goes a long way. A "serving" of fruits
or vegetables is probably much smaller than you think. "A lot of
people don't realize a serving of broccoli is only half a cup. A
large salad is two to three servings of vegetables," Moore says.
Fresh, frozen, dried, canned and juiced fruits and vegetables all
count toward the "five to nine" goal.
Plant a garden. This may sound too easy. However, a study
of rural Missouri families shows that families who had homegrown or
locally grown produce available also had better overall nutrition
patterns. Their children were also more likely to prefer a variety
of fruits and vegetables as "favorites."
Drink it all in. While it's not optimal to fall back on
juices for numerous servings, a half a cup of fruit or vegetable
juice still counts. "You do miss a little bit because you don't get
the fiber you would get from eating a whole fruit," Moore says.
"But you can use juice for maybe one serving."-Laurie Davies