Whether it is enjoying a cool slice of watermelon on a warm day or serving up a steaming vegetable stew on a cold night, fruits and vegetables should be the building blocks of our diet. In fact, one of the easiest ways to eat a healthy diet is to remember the five a day rule. Every day, everyone should remember to eat five fruits or vegetables as part of their meals and snacks. Since the combination of fruits and vegetables seems practically endless, this means there should be something to suit every palate!
Five a Day for What?
As with any dietary changes, you may be wondering if adding five fruits and vegetables a day is worth it. Of course it is! Unlike the pre-packaged food that makes up much of a modern diet, fruits and vegetables offer:
- Essential vitamins and minerals.
- Necessary fibre.
- Disease fighting antioxidants.
- Colour, texture and taste!
On Your Way to Five A Day
The thought of fitting five fruits and vegetables into your diet may seem daunting, but there are many ways to sneak them in without even noticing. Peruse these tips and you will be well on your way to five a day.
- Mix it up with fresh, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables.
- Indulge in 100% fruit/vegetable juices or smoothies.
- Soups, stews, salads and sandwiches are great sources for vegetables.
- Snack on vegetable sticks instead of potato crisps.
- Substitute juice for your morning coffee.
- Add fruit to your morning cereal, or fruit salad on the side of your toast.
- Throw a piece of fruit in your gym bag to kill the post workout hunger pangs.
- Keep a tin of fruit in your desk for a sweet afternoon treat.
How Much Is Enough?
Many people can’t stomach the thought of eating five whole pieces of fruit, or crunching their way through five vegetables. Others wonder if they need to consume a whole melon just to count one serving. Use these guidelines to help eliminate any five a day confusion.
- 1 medium sized fruit (apple, orange, etc.) counts as one serving.
- ½ cup chopped fruit (berries, kiwis, etc.) counts as one serving.
- ¾ cup 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as one serving.
- ¼ cup dried fruit counts as one serving.
- ½ cup raw (non-leafy) or cooked vegetables counts as one serving.
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables counts as one serving.
- ½ cup cooked beans counts as one serving.
- Remember, potatoes and yams DO NOT count because they are starches.
Get Value for Your Money
Any number of excuses can be dreamed up to avoid eating five fruits and vegetables a day, but when doubts creep in, ask yourself if it is really worth is to risk your health due to a few small inconveniences. Make buying and serving fruits and vegetables more palatable by:
- Buying fresh and in season. Your taste-buds and purse will thank you for it!
- Watch local advertisements for sales and special offers.
- Keep frozen, tinned and dried items on hand for when needed.
- Buy tinned items if you know you won’t use them immediately.
- Prepare fresh items into bite-sized snacks a head of time, so they will be on hand when needed.
- Keep a fruit bowl in plain view, brimming with colourful snacks.
- Wash/scrub all items before storing, again so that they will be ready to eat when needed.
The Choice Is Yours
Still not convinced that five a day will be easy for you? Just look at this selection – the choice is yours!
- Brussel Sprouts
- French Beans
- Honeydew Melon
…and many more!
For optimal health and energy, strive to eat five fruits and vegetables a day. Your body, and your mind, will thank you for it!