Today, I saw a headline about a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables may prolong life. The study of more than 71,000 people in Sweden found risk of early death was 53% higher among those who didn’t eat fruits and vegetables compared with those who got their five daily servings.
While this is only one study, it really made me stop and think about my own commitment to eating fruits and vegetables. I’m a dietitian, so I know fruits and veggies are good for me and I probably like eating more varieties than most people. I have special education in selecting, storing and preparing fruits and vegetables. I also have a special interest in emerging research on the health impacts of eating phytochemicals and antioxidants uniquely found in plant foods. And just like anyone else, I too want a longer life. Why then, would I let even one day go by without eating five or more servings of fruits and veggies?
3 Steps to Help You Eat MORE
For me and others to be successful in eating five or more servings each day, I think it all comes down to three things: Plan, Shop and Eat!
Plan specific ways to add at least one serving of fruit or vegetable at each meal plus snacks.
- Sprinkle berries over breakfast cereal or blend into a smoothie with 100% juice.
- Wrap a banana inside a tortilla spread with peanut butter.
- Include spinach and tomatoes in salads and omelets.
- Toss broccoli, carrots and cauliflower into stir fries.
- Snack on colorful array of raw bell peppers or celery with hummus.
- Grab an apple, orange, banana, peach or pear as the ultimate portable snack.
Make sure the options you plan are convenient, tasty and realistic. Remember all forms of fruits and vegetables count as a serving including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice. You might be eating more servings than you think!
Make a weekly shopping list that matches your plan.
- Hit the produce section as your first stop in the grocery store.
- Shop local and seasonal produce for the most economical choices.
- Use our handy Aisle-by-Aisle Shopping Essentials guide as you create your shopping list.
- Refer to this selection and storage guide when making your purchases.
We may have the best intentions, but unfortunately one-third of all fruits and vegetables purchased by Americans never gets eaten. Fruits and vegetables don’t truly become nutritious until we eat them!
- Use recipes that help you serve delicious fruits and vegetables.
- This searchable 1000+ recipe database can help, or search through this 70+ recipe video collection that shows all prep step-by-step.
Over the next week, I challenge you to commit to tallying your daily intake to prove you really can eat five or more fruits and veggies per day. I will too!
Karen Buch, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian and Director, Lifestyles Initiatives