|Fruit and Vegetable Servings image courtesy of Pixabay|
Remember the old food pyramid? That old thing that used to tell us the right foods and quantities to eat for a well balanced, healthy and nutritious diet? For those that can not recall, or maybe are too young to remember, in the early 90’s the United States Department of Agriculture released the first real traditional food model specifically focused on dietary consumption and provided within it were the recommended values of the varying food groups. The pyramid put a big focus on whole grains and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and dairy products for a healthy, well balanced diet.
Throughout the 90’s as dietary fads grew, carbohydrates began to become more feared and the diet went through all sorts of transformations from being turned upside down, made into circles, squares, and all kinds of new trending shapes. One thing however that did not seem to be changing was the amount of servings of fruit and vegetables that should be present in a well balanced diet. Until recently the recommended amount was consistently four to five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and was treated only as a supplement to main, carbohydrate and protein-centric dishes rather than being the bulk of our fiber and carbohydrate intake.
So are we getting enough fruit and vegetable servings in our diet with four to five servings a day?
Info on Fruit and Veggie Intake Quality and Quantity
The thing about the intake of fruits and vegetables is that they can offer fullness through fiber content, a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, and provide a lighter feeling throughout the digestion process, all while not destroying your daily calorie count as you munch away. The main things to consider in eating your 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is sugar intake and variety; you want to shoot for a ‘produce-rainbow’ and avoid overeating the same fruit multiple times.
For instance, bananas are power packed with potassium and and B-6 but are also on the higher side when it comes to sugar and carbohydrates, now while these natural sugars and carbohydrates shouldn’t be treated like processed sugars and carbs as they digest faster and provide healthy regeneration of energy stores necessary for physical activity, you still don’t want to overdue your glucose intake by eating 4-5 bananas a day.
An Example of a Good Day's Fruit and Vegetable ConsumptionIn the following I will provide a normal day's intake of fruit and veggies as an example of how to eat and when. For best digestion, all fruit and vegetables should be eaten first with any meal; avoid eating any acidic fruits after other foods as this complicates digestion and can lead to stomach ache.
Here's what a normal day's diet looks like when shooting for 7-8 servings:
- First serving: Morning Coffee with Banana and Oatmeal - (Pros: Potassium, B-6/ Cons: 12-16g sugar)
- Second and third servings: 10 am Carrots and Grapefruit - (Pros: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, low sugar content, energizing/ cons: prep work)
- Fourth serving: Something Green With Lunch - Kale/Broccoli/Spinach (Pros: Calcium, Iron, Fiber)
- Fifth serving: Mid Day Snack - Berries and mint leaves (Pros: refreshing and energizing, heart health, focus)
- Sixth, seventh and eighth servings: Dinner should be 70% Veggie 30% other. Finish your day off with vegetable based carbs and avoid large meals or bread right before bed. Think beats, tomato, chard, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potato.
At the core of our cardiovascular issues as a human race is poor diet and exercise, if you up your raw fruit and vegetable content to 7-8 servings per day you are doing your due diligence to ward off disease by creating a strong immune system and building a powerhouse of antioxidants in your body.
It is not easy to go from zero to 100 in fruit and vegetable consumption, especially if you do not know where to begin. I encourage trying to take on the dietary change with a friend and doing as much further research as you can to learn how to add variety and zest to your diet.
Eating beautiful raw fruits and vegetables should be one of the joys of living on this wonderful earth, so do your best to get as many of the proper servings a day and you will feel light and invigorated, your skin will look beautiful, and you will be on your way to a healthier you!