In 1991, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched a program the 5-A-Day for Better Health Campaign that still continues today however it has been re-named and redesigned to fit the ever changing needs of our society. Today, the campaign is now referred to as Fruits & Veggies-More Matters campaign.
The 5-A-Day campaign (Fruits and Veggies-More Matters) will help you understand how many fruits and vegetables are recommended for you based on your age, gender, and physical activity levels. It also has some wonderful recipes and tips on increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption.
The intent and main objective of this important 5-A-Day campaign is to increase awareness of the importance of eating at least five a day(5 fruits and vegetables a day)if not more everyday for better health! There is a great deal of evidence that links a diet high in fruit and vegetable consumption with better health.
Because of all this research, The United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services Centers of Disease Control(CDC)recommends that we consume between 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The latest statistics show that less than 17% of US adults are reaching 5-A-Day and less than 11% consume at least 3 servings of fruit a day. This has obviously had a negative impact on our health as a society.
Fruits and vegetables obviously contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
When it comes to eating more fruits and vegetables it’s true that more matters but so does a insuring a balance of variety and color in our diets. No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. However, today one of the most raved about fruits, the acai berry, has gotten a lot of attention for its variety of health benefits.
Consuming fruits and veggies of many different colors gives our bodies the wide range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we need. It is all about variety when it comes to reaping the benefits of fruits and vegetables. We all get stuck in a rut of eating the same color and same type of fruits and veggies which is ok but adding color to your plate is important as well!
RED Fruits and Vegetables are colored by natural planet pigments 5adaycalled “lycopene” or “anthocyanins.” Tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit all contain high amounts of lycopene which can help reduce our risk of several types of cancers, especially prostate cancer. Anthocyanins found in red grapes, raspberries, and strawberries, and other red colored vegetables act as a powerful antioxidant that help protect our cells from harmful damage. Examples of red fruits and vegetables include cranberries, cherries, beets, rhubarb, strawberries, radishes, red peppers, and red apples.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are known for their “carotenoids.” Research indicates that these groups are beneficial in preventing risk of heart disease, cancer, and can help improve our immune system’s performance. Beta-carotene, found in carrots and sweet potatoes can also help with keeping our eye health at it’s best. Examples of these include yellow apples, butternut squash, grapefruit, papayas, pears, peaches, cantaloupe, nectarines, sweet corn, and persimmons.
The green category of fruits and vegetables include a pigment called “chlorophyll.” Some green fruits and vegetables including spinach, dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumbers, celery contain lutein which helps to protect our eye health and of course certain types of cancer. Examples include green apples, artichokes, kiwi, green peppers, zucchini, honeydew melon, and peas.
Blue and/or purple fruits and vegetables, like red fruits contain fruit “anthocyanins.” Found in blueberries, acai berries, grapes and and blueberries are powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in our body as well as protect our bodies from cell damage caused by free radicals. Examples include figs, eggplant, purple grapes, acai berries, and juneberries!
White fruits and vegetables are colored by “anthoxanthins” which are known for their help in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and may even reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some white fruits and vegetables including potatoes, bananas, are good sources of potassium as well. This group includes cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, jicama, mushrooms, and onions.
Tips for Consuming 5-A-Day Everyday!
Consuming at least 5-A-Day servings of fruit and vegetables can be easy following these simple tips to help you consume more antioxidants. If you want more information on the 5-A-Day campaign or other ways that you can increase your antioxidants and protect yourself from diseases, please contact me!
1. Add vegetables to soups and casseroles for added nutrient value.
2. Add vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots to sandwiches or pizzas. Stir-fry is also a great way to make sure you are getting a wide variety of color in your diet.
3. Keep a bowl of apples, bananas or grapes on the dinner table for increased convenience. The more you can see them the better chance you will eat them.
4. When you purchase fruits and vegetables from the supermarket be sure to wash, cut and prepare them right away. This will help you reduce waste and increase your chances of eating them.
5. Drink antioxidant packed juices but be sure to only consume products that contain 100% fruit juice. Most juices today are filled with sugar and extra calories. Did you know that the acai berry ranks the highest in antioxidants compared to any other fruit and vegetable on the planet?
6. Keep dried fruit in your office desk to help you curb cravings throughout your work day.
7. Instead of high caloric desserts choose fruit and top with your favorite low calorie cool whip or pudding for extra taste.
8. Keep low-fat/calorie dips around to increase flavor for fruits and vegetables.
9. Instead of fries or onions rings for your side dish, pick a healthy lettuce salad for dinner or lunch.
10. Try filling you place with as much color as you can with vegetables or fruit at each meal. Then add the main course such as chicken, meat, or potatoes.