Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables each day to best support their health, and some of that might stem from serving size guidelines being so ambiguous. You may not know how much of each you should eat each day, or what a serving of fruit or vegetables even looks like.
An analysis from Harvard indicates that a total of five servings per day of fruits and vegetables offers the strongest health benefits.
“Right now, we have a recommendation for people to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which equivalates to about two fruits and three vegetables,” said Cheryl Cavaliere, a nutritionist and Lecturer of Health Sciences at UCF. “For fruits, that’s one cup of fresh fruits or one cup of 100% juice, or a half a cup of dried fruits. For vegetables, it’s one cup of fresh or cooked vegetables, and a half a cup of legumes, which are the beans, peas, and lentils. Or one cup of 100% vegetable juice.”
Compared with people who only had two servings a day, researchers found that people who consumed five a day had a 13% lower risk of death from any cause, a 12% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke, a 10% lower risk of death from cancer, and a 35% lower risk of death from respiratory disease.
“For individuals who have a tough time eating foods because of their schedule, they can do things such as blended smoothies or even having a little bit of fruit juice to help meet the fruit and vegetable requirements for the day,” said Cavaliere.
Aside from adding plenty of fresh options to your diet, frozen fruits, and veggies, as well as canned varieties, also count. With canned options, just make sure to opt for those that are canned in water with no added sugar and salt. Dried unsweetened fruit can also serve as a great snack or salad topper option.