Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They contain a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are needed by the body and provide various benefits including everything from making the skin glow to preventing diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all adults and children should eat a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables every day to maintain overall health and wellness. At Oh So Nutrition, our goal is to help as many people as possible attain and even surpass this goal.
Why should I care?
There are many benefits to eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily in order to support overall health and wellness. Some of these benefits include:
- Eating at least 400 grams or five portions/servings of fruit and vegetables per day reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases. It also helps to ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary fibre.
- The consumption of fruits and vegetables also helps in weight control and improves skin tone. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important because they all provide various combinations of vitamins and minerals essential to the body. For example, did you know that agbalumo (udara) is rich in Vitamin C which supports the normal function of the immune system, as well as, help to reduce tiredness and fatigue?
- By consuming a wide variety of fruit and veg, we provide our body with nutrients that can help lower the risk of chronic health problems such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
What types of fruits and vegetables count towards achieving 5 servings per day?
Foods that make can counted as part of your five a day requirement includes fruits or vegetables that are either fresh, frozen, or dried, and unprocessed
What counts as a serving?
- A serving of fruit is approximately 80g, however, a portion of dried fruit is around 30g which is the equivalent of 80g of fresh fruit.
- One serving size of fruit could be one medium banana, six strawberries, one medium apple or half a glass (125ml) of 100% fruit juice.
- One serving of vegetables could be: 10 baby carrots, one cup of ugu or even half a glass (125ml) of tomato juice.
If you are wondering how to attain eating your five servings of whole food plant based goodness daily, a smoothie or a nice salad can be a great part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. They go a long way in helping you to achieve your goal and can be consumed conveniently while you are running around on the go.
5 ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Eat the rainbow. Eat the rainbow! Find ways to include more color. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. The best way to get all the various nutrients is to eat fruits and vegetables of many different colors and eat from as many colour groups.
- Snack smart. Cravings are normal, and the best way to prepare for that is to stay ready, so you do not have to get ready. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Or reach for vegetables that require little preparation, such as baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter. Whatever you do, be sure to limit your intake of dried fruits because they're not as filling as whole fruits and they pack a lot more calories in smaller portions. For instance, 1⁄4 cup of raisins has about 100 calories, that’s the same as 2 cups of grapes!
- Drink! Drink!! Drink!!! A great way to get your required servings of fruits and vegetables is to drink it. Make a smoothie with your favourite fruits and vegetables or you can always juice. Drinking is a great way to consume the required amount of fruits and vegetables your body needs.
- You can never go wrong with a plan. Planning your meals does not only help you take stock and keep track of how many fruits and vegetables, it also helps you stay organized and buy in bulk. This makes eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables easier. However, remember this - For raw leafy salad greens, two cups equals a cup of vegetables. For dried fruit, a half-cup equals one cup. In addition, a cup of 100% juice can count as one of your daily cups.
- Eat a side salad with lunch/dinner or both. Salads are a fantastic way to eat more fruits and vegetables. They are also pretty easy to make. By salads, we do not mean slaws drenched in loads of store bought creamy dressing. Just pile up some greens and combine with vegetables readily available to you (carrots, cabbage, green pepper) and then dress it (with olive oil or lemon juice) and eat it.