“5-A-Day” Diet Says Eat More Fruit & Veggies
By: Pamela Redwine,
MSU Nutrition and Food
Safety Area Agent
One size does not fit all when it comes to the appropriate amounts of fruits and vegetable for your diet. The Mississippi Department of Health is one of many organizations nationwide launching a new initiative to encourage Americans to add more fruits and veggies to their diets.
The original “5-A-Day” program encouraging five servings of fruits or vegetables each day was launched in 1991 to promote healthy lifestyles. But now, research shows that even more nutritional foods are needed for a healthy lifestyle. Health officials and organizations nationwide are joining in the push for “Fruits and Veggies—More MattersTM.”
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control shows that only 32.6 percent of adults are eating fruit two or more times a day, and only 27.2 percent are eating vegetables three or more times a day.
To break it down further, currently only 14 percent of families with children reach the recommended servings each day. Adults who are obese consume 8 percent less fruits and veggies than a person of normal weight does.
Research shows most of us now need to more than double our fruit and vegetable consumption in order to meet the new dietary guidelines. Children need two to five cups of fruits and vegetables during the day, depending on their age, size and sex. And adults are encouraged to eat between three and a half and six and a half cups of fruits and veggies daily, also depending on their age, sex and activity level.
Reasons for the low numbers of servings Americans get each day could be contributed to our busy lifestyles, poor or no menu planning, as well as many of us having no desire to eat fruits and vegetables because we were not served these foods when we were younger.
But, the good news is, including more fruits and veggies in your diet is easy if you remember that all forms count, including frozen, canned, dried and juice. Donna Speed, MS, RD, Nutrition Director with MDH and the states Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Coordinator tells us that planning meals to include fruits and veggies can make a difference. “When starting off in the morning, have some juice or fruit in cereal or in a muffin. Have fruit or veggies for snacks between meals. For lunch, include a large green or fruit salad. With the supper meal, invite the kids to help you clean and prepare fresh vegetables. Dessert could be a fruit cobbler for a treat.”
By adding more fruits and veggies into your diet, you’re ensuring that your body gets a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals it needs to maintain good health and energy levels, protect against the effects of aging and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
And by starting your kids out early on fruits and veggies, you can rest assured they’re getting the nutrients they need to grow. Introduce new fruits & veggies into a child’s diet when they are young and continue offering the food several times.
So, whether you currently eat one, four or eight servings of fruits and veggies a day, you will always benefit from eating a little more.