There is no debate about the health benefits that come with eating fruits and vegetables. These food groups provide essential nutrients that help our bodies and minds function at their absolute best. But, how much is enough?
Overall, it's hard to have too many fruits and veggies. However, that's not most people's problem. The issue with fruits and veggies tends to be that people don't consume nearly enough. According to a recent study published by Circulation, it is still unclear the optimal amount of fruits and vegetables we should be consuming. But, a good rule of thumb is to try to shoot for 5 of these nutrient powerhouses daily to start noticing a change in your health.
What types of fruits and veggies should make up the majority of your day? It's important to stick with deeply colored options like dark leafy greens, berries, apples, or citrusy fruits. Although potatoes and corn are technically considered vegetables- they rank much lower on the healthy spectrum (sweet potatoes are slightly higher on the spectrum, but still starchy). Also on the lower end of the spectrum are fruit juices. This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy potatoes or a glass of orange juice now and again. Just be sure these items of fruits and vegetable sources are not your staples.
The potato and juice news might be a bit of a bummer, so the good news is that getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables is actually pretty easy!
What does a serving size of fruit look like?
According to the American Heart Association, fruit servings vary based on size and type. Here are some examples of fruit serving sizes:
1 medium whole fruit (roughly the size of your first)
1/2 cup canned, cooked, or frozen no sugar added
1/4 cup dried
What about veggies?
Similar to fruit, the American Heart Association states the following serving size guidelines for vegetables:
1 cup raw, leafy greens
1/2 cup canned, cooked, or frozen
Want does adding more fruits and veggies look like in action on a daily basis? Here is a quick sample meal plan to demonstrate just how easy it is!
Breakfast: a whole fruit smoothie consisting of ½ cup each of chopped mango or banana and green apple with 1 cup of spinach, blended together with 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative and 1/2 Greek yogurt or high protein plant-based alternative.
**3 servings of fruit and vegetables
Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken or turkey breast, 1 cup mixed greens, ½ cup raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries, 1/3 of an avocado, and a little cheese and dressing of choice sprinkled on top (optional)
**2 servings of fruit and vegetables
Dinner: Grilled salmon with quinoa, brown rice, or small sweet potato with 1 cup steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and/or carrots.
**2-3 servings of vegetables
Make adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet even easier by purchasing pre-chopped veggies and fruits. Better yet, try frozen! Frozen fruits and veggies may contain more nutrients than fresh because they are typically picked at their ripest point and then flash-frozen, storing all their nutrients! Also, keep some smoothie and soup recipes handy. These are both great meal options that make packing a ton of fruits and vegetables into your diet super easy and simple.
Finally, when selecting fruit and vegetable options think about eating the rainbow (no, not skittles!). Opt for plenty of different colors (carrots, purple cabbage, kale, etc.). Making sure to eat a variety of colors will give your body and mind the nutrients it needs to stay healthy!