A lot of people may think they get enough fruit and veggies over the day, but they may fall short of the recommendations. To start off, what are the recommendations? In general, the more produce the better, but check these charts for your age and sex to get specific recommendations.
These recommendations are pretty clear by putting them into “cups” rather than a number of servings. However, there are 2 exceptions. When it comes to dried fruit 1/2 a cup counts as a full cup. The volume is smaller just because they are dehydrated, but they retain their nutrition. The second difference is with leafy green vegetables. This includes lettuce, spinach, kale and other salad mixes. Because they are so light, 2 measured cups equals a cup serving. Use the below images that I got from PopSugar to help you visualize your actual needs. It may not be as daunting as you think,
I couldn’t find similar images of vegetables but just grab some measuring cups and measure it out.
If these charts and images make you realize that your intake is on the low side, you are in good company. The CDC conducted a study and found that on average, only 32.5% of Americans meet their needs for fruit and only 26.3% meet their vegetable needs. These numbers have actually gotten worse since 2000. Statistically, the highest intake is found in women, adults over 65, and in those with a college degree. Surprisingly, fruit intake is very similar across income brackets (vegetable intake is highest in those with salaries above $50,000). This shows that social factors and education may be more important than income.
But you may ask, why is it important? Well for your personal health, it is probably the best thing you can do. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in salt, fat, and calorie making it easier to lose weight or stay where you are. It has also been shown that a diet high in produce can reduce your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, lower your blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and kidney stones. They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, water, and phytonutrients. All of these are critically important for your body to function properly and at its highest level.
Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily life.