We have all heard “the more the better” regarding eating “healthy food” - in this case, fruits and veggies. But just how much are we really supposed to eat? Let’s see!
According to a study done in 2017, 3 to 4 servings a day of vegetables and fruits reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and early death. It is important to understand what “servings” mean. It used to be measured in grams, so, it was about 375 – 400 grams per day (of combined fruits and vegatables). Now, U.S. dietary guidelines use cups as a measure, because it is easier for everyone to follow. According to an article in Time magazine, they recommend between 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit, and between 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day, depending on age and gender. Of course, the “how” we consume them is also important. The study also highlighted that the consumption of raw vegetables had greater benefits than cooked vegetables.
Overall, the study measured the reduction of death risk but, registered dietitian Cynthia Sass who is the author of the book Slim down now, also added an interesting take on the findings. While 4 servings is what is recommended, if you have the opportunity to add more, this will also translate in more benefits in terms of quality of life. As we have discussed in previous blog entries, every food group provide different health benefits, such as: more energy, positive mood, better sleep, etc.
I would also like to share the 1-2-3 approach from the Mayo Clinic:
1 serving with breakfast
2 with lunch
3 with dinner and snacks
They also recommend different ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits to each meal of the day. For example, for breakfast you can drink a smoothie with fruit and kale or spinach, or for lunch you could add more vegetables to your sandwich maybe also incorporating fruit as dessert. I mean, who can resist a good cup of strawberries or mango after lunch? And again, try to eat as many of this servings raw because that’s how you get most of the nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Although, some vegetables can increase some of their benefits when properly cooked according to this study.
Have you ever noticed how many fruits and vegetables you eat on a daily basis? Let me know in the comments!