Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is vital to good health. The recommendations by the American Heart Association are based on daily caloric intake. For example:
1,600 calories/day 3-4 vegetable servings/day 4 fruit servings/day
2,000 calories/day 4-5 vegetable servings/day 4-5 fruit servings/day
The Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new guidelines suggest that eating 5 to 13 servings a day is best depending on the number of calories you need. Caloric need is based on an individual’s level of activity and their desire to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight.
Some examples of serving sizes for fruits and vegetables are:
|1 medium fruit (about the size of a baseball)||1 cup raw leafy vegetables|
|¼ cup dried fruit||½ cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables|
|½ cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit||½ cup vegetable juice|
|½ cup fruit juice|
Foods are the best sources of nutrients because they contain naturally occurring ingredients, like carotenoids and flavenoids, which have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which creates a feeling of fullness. This makes them great for helping you watch your weight. Remember, the correct number of fruit and vegetable servings depends on your individual daily caloric intake needs.
To help determine your daily caloric intake need, a consultation with your primary care physician may be beneficial.