The 5-a-day rule is based on a campaign that launched several years ago to encourage Americans to make sure they get their 5 daily servings of 5 fruits and vegetables. The campaign’s name was changed to “More Matters” in 2007 this campaign was changed, but it’s core message is the same. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that most of us don’t even come close to hitting that mark. So let’s talk a little bit about the importantance of getting 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and some easy ways you can observe the 5-a-day rule.
Why are Fruits & Vegetables Important?
Although all food has some sort of nutrient value, fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, which are an essential factor to keeping our cells healthy and our bodies strong.
Can’t I Just Take A Multi-Vitamin?
Adding a high-quality multi-vitamin is a great idea but it should be used to supplement – not replace – a healthy diet. There are some cases in which the nutrients found in multi-vitamins will be better absorbed by your body because of “co-factors” that help your body to utilize the nutrients. But fruits vitamins and minerals aren’t the only benefits of eating fruits and vegetables – they’re also a wonderful source of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and discard waste.
What is a Serving?
Sometimes it’s difficult to find out what a “serving” means, and when we think of getting 5 or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables it can be incredibly intimidating. But you’d be surprised to learn that a serving is in fact much less than you might think.
What Does One Serving of Fruit Look Like?
• 1 small/medium piece of fruit
• ½ cup chopped fruit
• ¼ cup dried fruit
• 1 cup leafy greens
• ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables
• 4 oz. of fruit or vegetable juice
How to Fit 5 Servings of Fruit into Your Daily Meals
Breakfast – Smoothie with 1 banana, ½ cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup spinach. 3 Servings
Lunch – Sandwich with 2 slices of turkey, 1 slice of tomato, ½ avocado and lettuce. 1 cup baby carrots on the side. 3 Servings
Snack – 1 apple with 1 tbsp. almond butter. 1 serving
Dinner – 6 oz. chicken breast, ½ cup asparagus (6 stalks) and 1 sweet potato. 3 servings
Snack – 4 large strawberries and 2 pieces of dark chocolate. 1 serving
Total – 11 servings
What if I Can’t Stand Vegetables?
If the thought of vegetables make you want to gag, you are not alone! But that doesn’t get you off the hook with the 5 a-day rule. My advice would be to start slowly and experiment with some new vegetables here and there. Here are some ways to work more vegetables into your diet:
Sneak Them in a Smoothie
Smoothies are a great place to sneak in leafy greens and other vegetables. Start by adding 1 cup of spinach to your morning smoothie. After you realize that it won’t kill you (and you may even like it!) try adding some additional greens like kale, lettuce and Swiss chard.
Grill Them Up
Grilling tends to bring out a sweeter flavor and make vegetables more palatable.
Chop Them Up or Blend Them In
Oftentimes it’s seeing the vegetables that freak us out. Try pureeing some into your next spaghetti sauce or finely chop veggies and mix them into your next turkey burger or meatloaf.
Nothing but wonderful things can happen from incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your day. I hope that you find these tips helpful and we can all strive to get 5 a-day every day!