We've all been advised to eat fruits and vegetables daily, but how much do we need to consume to be healthy? Apparently the number of portions varies from country to country. Most, like Germany, Netherlands, and New Zealand, recommend five portions a day (for adults); Canada and Japan recommend at least seven; while France goes as far as 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
Just so we're on the same page, five portions of fruits and vegetables is equivalent to 400 grams (0.88 pounds)—and that's the bare minimum we should be having. And in case you're wondering what's up with the different values, the rationale behind those numbers (and slight discrepancies) is what's good enough to get the protective benefits of fruits and vegetables. Of course eating more is clearly the safer, surer, and more beneficial route, and maybe other people just don't want to settle for "good enough."
Here are ways to help you reach the daily recommended value:
1. Start slow. Get used to eating fruits and veggies!
Some people say they're just not into veggies, but have they tried all varieties and cooked them in different ways? If they haven't, they spoke too soon. The first step is really finding out which vegetables you like and how you like them, then you can start having them in your meals.
2. Make fruit salad.
Just go easy on the cream! Or if you don't want the fattening stuff at all, just have a bowl of fresh fruits—it's still delicious and refreshing!
3. Have some fruits with your breakfast food and snacks.
Having pancakes for breakfast or a cup of Greek yogurt? Top them with strawberries and/or bananas. Smoothies are good since they count as more than one portion if they have all the edible pulped fruit or vegetable.
4. Have green salads.
The more variety of vegetables, the better. This is a great way to make it to the recommended value, especially if you're having them for lunch and dinner. Plus points to you if you add fruits like mangoes, grapes, orange, and grapefruit segments.
5. Add veggies to your favorite dishes.
Pizza? Lasagna? Burgers? Put in mushrooms, onions, zucchinis, or eggplant. Doesn't sound appetizing? Wait 'til you try having them with your favorites. If you're not interested at all, mince them so you'll hardly be able to tell that they're there.
Keep in mind that it's best to have your fruits and vegetables raw, since cooking them will remove some of the nutrients. If you want to drink some fruit juice, go easy on the sugar and don't rely on them for your daily portions (they don't have as much fiber as whole fruits and vegetables). Lastly, have variety. Don't stick to one kind of vegetable or fruit. You need a variety for a balanced diet and to get a wide range of nutrients from them to keep you healthy.
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