The 5-A-Day For Better Health program is a national Initiative with the goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among Americans to 5-9 servings a day. According to the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, the three most important personal habits that influence health are smoking, alcohol consumption and diet. Two thirds of all deaths, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many types of cancer are related to diet.
Eat more healthily by eating more fruits and vegetables
One of the easiest, and tastiest, ways to eat more healthfully is to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are low fat, low calorie, high fiber and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients.
Studies have shown that people who consume 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and many other conditions. For example, a review of more than 200 epidemiological studies recently found people who consumed about 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily were at approximately half the risk of developing cancer of the digestive or respiratory tracts as those who consumed fewer than 2 servings a day.
Since the 5-A-Day program was founded in 1991 by the national Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health, fruit and vegetable consumption by Americans has risen. Recent data has shown that the average American currently eats 4.4 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, up from 3.0 in 1991 at the program’s founding. Awareness of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables has also risen.
Source: The Diet Channel.
Fruit & Vegetable Benefits
Almost Everyone Needs to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
A growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health. To get the amount that’s recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they currently eat every day.
Fruits and Vegetables Can Protect Your Health
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diets are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps with cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
The Colors of Health
Fruits and vegetables come in terrific colors and flavors, but their real beauty lies in what’s inside. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of many vitamins, minerals and other natural substances that may help protect you from chronic diseases.
To get a healthy variety, think color. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients like fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C.
Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for all Americans to eat more nutrient-rich foods. Fruits and vegetables can be a great source for the following important nutrients:
Calcium: Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for normal functioning of muscles, nerves and some glands.
Fiber: Diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
Folate: Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a women’s risk of having a child with brain or spinal cord defect.
Iron: Needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells.
Magnesium: Magnesium is necessary for healthy bones and is involved with more than 300 enzymes in your body! Inadequate levels may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure.
Potassium: Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Sodium: Needed for normal cell function throughout the body. Most diets contain too much sodium which is associated with high blood pressure.
Vitamin A: Keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections.
Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Top 10 Reasons to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
10 Color & Texture. Fruits and veggies add color, texture and appeal
9 Convenience. Fruits and veggies are nutritious in any form: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice (smoothies), so they are ready when you are!
8 Fiber. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy.
7 Low in Calories. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
6 May Reduce Disease Risk. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
5 Vitamins & Minerals. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.
4 Variety. Fruits and veggies are available in an almost infinite variety…there is always something new to try!
3 Quick, Natural Snack. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack.
2 Fun to Eat! Some crunch, some squirt, some you peel..some you don’t.
1 Fruits & Veggies are Nutritious AND Delicious!
Source: Fruits & Veggies More Matters
Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits & Veggies Each Day
“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” We’ve heard it all of our lives. If only it were so simple.
Our bodies crave fruits and vegetables more than just about any other food because we tend to get far fewer of them than we need. We often think we’d survive just fine on 2-3 servings a day- or less. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA both recommend at least 5 servings per day! What you’re missing could be the difference between just surviving and all out thriving.
Besides being packed full of nutrients, fruits and vegetables can also be quite filling. They may even ward off any empty calorie snacking that might follow!
Source: Excerpt taken from an article written by Staff Writer Laura Bofinger at SPARKPEOPLE
Choose My Plate
Eating healthy by making better choice is the platform for the USDA “Choose My Plate” platform. Build a healthy plate, before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl. Foods like vegetables and fruit contain the nutrients you need without too many calories.
Choose foods and drinks with little or no added sugars.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. There are about 10 packets of sugar in a 12-ounce can of soda.
- Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often.
- Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks.
- Most packaged foods and beverages have a Nutrition Facts label and an ingredients list. For a healthier you, use this tool to make smart choices quickly and easily.
- Check for calories. Be sure to look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories.
- Choose foods and beverages with lower calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
- Check for added sugars using the ingredients list. When sugar is close to first on the ingredients list, the food or beverage is high in added sugars.