How to eat 5 cups of daily fruits & vegetables—and why you should
If your brain automatically jumps to “5 a day” when you’re thinking about how many fruits and veggies you should eat, you’re not alone. Dietary guidelines say adults should have 1.5-2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily, totally 5 cups a day. That’s a tall order, but it’s achievable. Read on to find out more about why—and how—you should shoot for 5 cups of produce each day.
Here’s why you should eat more daily fruits and vegetables
Eating your 5-a-day helps provide your body with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. These all work together to support a health immune system and prevent many diseases and ailments. In fact, eating well can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers. Not to mention: a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy gut and digestive system.
In addition to helping you stay healthy, a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can help make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. That’s because they are often low in fat and calories (as long as you aren’t regularly frying, battering, or cooking them in lots of oils).
What counts towards daily fruits and vegetables?
Fresh, dried, canned or frozen: it all counts towards your daily portions. Juice and smoothies only count as 1 of your total portions, though, because sugars are released when fruits are blended or juiced. You also can lose some of the fiber if pulp is separated out.
Eating more fruits
Eating enough fruit in a day (1.5 – 2 servings) doesn’t mean you have to have a banana or apple everyday for breakfast. Try varying your fruits, and preparation, to get to your daily dose.
Each of these counts as 1 portion of fruit you need per day:
- 2 kiwis
- 7 strawberries
- 1 apple
- ½ grapefruit
- 1 slice of melon
- 2 slices of mango
- 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins
- 2 dried figs
- 1 handful or dried bananas
- 2 canned peach halves
- 2 handfuls of frozen blueberries
If you don’t like salads and cauliflower, don’t worry. There are a lot of options when it comes to getting your daily dose of vegetables (2-3 cups).
Each of these options count as 1 portion of vegetable you need per day:
- 2 broccoli spears
- 4 heaped tablespoons of spring greens
- 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked, canned, or frozen carrots, peas, or corn
- 3 celery sticks
- 1 medium tomato
- 3 heaped tablespoons of kidney beans or chickpeas
These are tasty, but don’t count towards your 5-a-day
Potatoes, yams, cassava, and plantain are delicious sides and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, they are considered “starchy foods” and don’t count towards your daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
While they don’t count towards your fruits and vegetables, they can count towards your diet in the “starchy” category. Think breads, pastas, or rice.