Want to instantly upgrade your diet? Eat more fruits and veggies. Produce-packed diets are, by far, the healthiest and help protect against many chronic diseases as well as the normal wear-and-tear of aging. If you want fewer wrinkles, less body fat or better bones, eating more colorful produce is the answer.
Despite how important produce is for our health, more than 9 of 10 of us fail to meet our daily fruit and vegetable requirements? Most women will benefit greatly by having 3-4 servings of veggies per day and 2-3 servings of fruit. That’s a total of 5-7 servings.
Fruits and vegetables are fiber-rich and calorie-poor. They’re also packed with nutrients like vitamins A & C, folic acid, potassium and much more. In addition, their colors are cues to the disease-fighting antioxidants they provide. That’s why eating a variety of color is so important to get the most health protection. You should make sure you eat produce of all colors including those that are green, red, purple/blue, orange and white.
To immediately start reaping the benefits of fresh foods in your diet, be sure to include five servings every day for the next week. After one week, you’ll start to see and feel how the produce starts crowding out other unhealthy foods that you were eating. Use the guide below to learn how to count servings.
1 serving of fruit =
- 1 medium piece of fresh fruit
- ½ cup fruit salad or canned fruit (choose those packed in water)
- ½ cup 100% fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit
A vegetable serving =
- 1 cup raw or leafy greens
- ½ cup cooked
- ½ cup vegetable juice
5 Ways to Get More Produce Into Your Diet
Here’s some ways that I help ensure that I meet my daily produce quota:
1. I have a huge fruit bowl in the middle of my dining room table that you cannot miss. It encourages us to eat a serving of fruit with each meal.
2. Eat a salad with lunch or dinner every day. This will give you at least 2 veggie servings.
3. Enjoy tomato-based soups. I often have a cup of minestrone or tomato soup as part of my lunch.
4. Make snacks out of fruit or veggies. I often have hummus with romaine lettuce or an apple with natural peanut butter.
5. When eating out, opt for restaurants that feature vegetarian, Indian, Mediterranean or Asian dishes as they’ll have more veggie-rich options.
—Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD