Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?
It’s hard to know, isn’t it?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily for someone who is moderately active and consumes a 2,000-calorie diet. However you slice it, most people don’t meet those benchmarks.
But if you’re like the majority of folks, you don’t know what constitutes a serving (and you probably don’t carry a measuring cup with you to every meal either). How can you eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables if you can’t visualize what a serving looks like?
That’s why I was really excited to stumble across these handy photos of the daily recommended servings of various combinations of fruits and vegetables.
The first picture makes it clear that eating enough produce can be pretty simple. A large salad — say a deli-sized one — a glass of apple juice, and a banana, and you’re there. Personally, I’m not a fan of juice (too much sugar and no fiber), but I love kale and berries, so number two looks good to me. Actually, most of them look good to me! Like the author, I was surprised to see that eating 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies is easier than it sounds, once it’s all laid out.
Need some more motivation to fill up your plate with produce? Numerous studies have outlined the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables—everything from better cardiovascular health to lower rates of stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Research also demonstrates that a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet is correlated with an increased risk of obesity.
Unfortunately, few people eat at least seven servings of produce a day. In fact, even when the goal is reduced to just five servings per day (three vegetable servings and two servings of fruit) — as it was by the U.S.-government sponsored Healthy People 2010 initiative — a 2007 study found only 11 percent of Americans manage to comply. Children fare no better. A report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2009 found that less than 10 percent of high school students manage to eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables a day.
One way to increase your family’s consumption of fruits and veggies is to grow them yourself. Nothing is more convenient than having fresh, healthy food growing steps from your back door. I personally love growing my own herbs and greens because you can pick what you need at any given time and not worry about a big bunch of parsley or kale going limp in the crisper. Plus I hate grocery shopping.
Speaking of home gardens, have you tried Tower Garden? It’s a state-of-the-art, vertical, aeroponic growing system that’s perfect for rooftops, patios or balconies — just about any sunny spot outdoors. It’s easier than traditional gardening because there’s no soil, no weeds, and no ground pests to threaten your crops. You can grow almost anything you like in a Tower Garden®, including tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, beans, cucumbers, melons, herbs, and more. It’s a convenient, fun way to ensure you always have affordable fresh produce on hand to nourish your family and to safeguard your health and that of your loved ones.
How do you get your five servings a day? Share your fruit and veggie combinations!
 Casagrande SS, et al. Have Americans increased their fruit and vegetable intake? The trends between 1988 and 2002. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Apr;32(4):257-63.
 Associated Press. 9 in 10 teens fall short on fruits and veggies. NBCnews.com. Sept. 29, 2009. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33071814/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/teens-fall-short-fruits-veggies/#.VAeRVfldWSo