When you were a child, the grownups around you probably told you to “eat your fruits and vegetables.” As an adult, you’ve probably repeated the very same thing to all the children in your life.
After all, doctors have always touted the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and science has proven again and again how crucial they are in a healthy diet. So then, there’s no doubt whether or not “eat your fruits and vegetables” is sound advice.
But, the funny thing is… although we may understand how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables, many of us don’t know much beyond that. We may have no idea how many fruits and vegetables we should be eating or which ones are best for our health.
Current recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tell us that fruits and vegetables should make up 50 percent of every meal we eat. When the USDA updated their guidelines close to a decade ago, that familiar, almost 20-year-old food pyramid we all recognized was replaced with a colorful illustration of a plate. The "My Plate" icon represents a healthy meal. Half the plate is filled with fruits and veggies.
An interesting study published in 2017 in the International Journal of Epidemiology looked at how many fruits and vegetables are needed in the diet to achieve optimal health and avoid premature death. Scientists from Imperial College in London studied 2 million people from populations across the globe as well as hundreds of thousands of cases of disease and premature death. They determined that eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day could reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer as well as help people avoid early death.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber as well as low in calories. When choosing fruits and vegetables to incorporate into your daily diet, it’s best to include an assortment of fruits and vegetables of different types and colors because different types and colors offer different health benefits. Choosing a rainbow of colors can help us ensure we are getting enough of all the various nutrients our bodies need for overall good health. Make sure to speak with your doctor about your nutritional needs.