Eat more fruits and vegetables

Do you eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit every day? When I ask this question the look on most peoples’ face suggests that they probably are not.

It seems that most people are well aware of the protective effects of fruits and vegetables. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence for their health benefits, many of us still fall short of the recommended five to 10 servings per day.

Because of our hectic lifestyles we often succumb to a quick bagel for breakfast instead of an orange, a strawberry cereal bar for a snack instead of a banana or bowl of fresh berries, a pack of potato chips with lunch instead of a handful of fresh baby carrots, and a dinner plate filled with everything but green and colourful vegetables.

Study after study tells us that a diet high in fruits and vegetables wards off cancer, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure; it can even preserve our eye sight. Do we really need another reason to fill our plates with fruits and vegetables?

What’s a serving?

Current recommendations suggest that women aim to eat seven to eight servings every day; eight to nine servings if you’re a man. Sounds like a large amount of food? It really isn’t, especially when you understand what a serving size actually looks like.

One serving of fruit or vegetable is equivalent to:

? 1 medium-sized whole fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear, peach, nectarine)

? ½ grapefruit

? 1 cup cubed fruit

? ½ cup berries or grapes

? ¼ cup dried fruit

? 2 tbsp raisins or dried cranberries

? 6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice

? ½ cup cooked vegetables

? 1 cup salad

Your ‘road map’ to getting enough fruits and veggies every day

BREAKFAST: Include one to two fruit servings (e.g. a small glass citrus juice and chopped fruit on your cereal)

SNACKS: Carry a fruit in your bag for midday snacking (e.g. a box of raisins, an apple or single-serve cans of unsweetened fruit or applesauce)

LUNCH: Include one to two vegetable servings (e.g. a can of low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice, extra veggies in your sandwich, a handful of baby carrots, a cup of vegetable soup)

DINNER: Include two different vegetable servings (e.g. carrots and broccoli, vegetable stir-fry, tomato pasta sauce with zucchini and peppers)

DAILY TOTAL: Five to eight fruit and vegetable servings (or two to four fruit servings and three to four vegetable servings).