How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Did you know there are two food groups that can help you maintain a healthy weight, fight cancer, protect your heart, and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles? Unfortunately, most people only eat about half the recommended servings per day of these “magical” foods. I am taking about fruits and vegetables, nature’s powerful disease fighters.

If you are like most people, you are looking to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake, but may not be sure how without hours in the kitchen or breaking the bank. The recommended amount is 2 servings of fruit per day and 5 servings of vegetables daily. That amount can sometimes seem quite overwhelming, especially if you are not sure what a serving is and if you are getting enough.

A serving of fruit is about 150g of fruit, which equals:

  • 1 medium whole fruit: apple, banana, orange, peach, pear (about the size of a tennis ball)
  • 2 small whole fruits: kiwis, plums, apricots
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit without any additional sugar.
  • 30g of dried fruits

A serving of vegetables is about 75g of vegetables, which equals:

  • ½ cup of cooked green or orange vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, or carrots.
  • ½ cup cooked or canned beans or other legumes
  • 1 cup raw vegetables
  • ½ of a medium size starchy vegetable, such as a potato or cassava
  • 1 whole tomato

Tips for Getting More Fruit & Vegetables into Your Diet

Not sure how to get in all those servings? Here are some helpful tips for those of us who want to eat healthier by adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets.

  1. Eat fruit as your primary go-to snack. An apple, pear, banana, or other whole piece of fruit is easy, portable, and takes no time to prepare.
  2. Choose fruits and vegetables in-season. These fruits and veggies will taste better, cost less, and possibly contain more nutrients than those that are not in season. If you are not sure which fruits or vegetables are currently in season, you can check out this Seasonal Food Guide.
  3. Sneak fruits and veggies into your breakfast. Sometimes we tend to rely on traditional breakfast foods such as cereals or breads for breakfast. But, breakfast is a great time to add in some additional fruit and vegetables. Top your cereal with colourful berries or make an omelette with a variety of your favourite vegetables. It is easy to get in a serving or two before your day even begins!
  4. Sneak veggies into your favourite meals. Love pizza or sandwiches? These are great places to add a few servings of vegetables. Don’t just add meat or cheese to the pizza, get creative and top the pizza with peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, or any vegetable of your choice. Add spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocados, or any other favourite veggies to a sandwich. Vegetables will make your favourite foods more nutritious and more filling.
  5. Learn to love soup. Vegetable soup is a great way to add a ton of vegetables to your diet and is easy to prepare. You can even freeze some of the leftovers for later. Try one of my favourite soup recipes.

Be sure to check back regularly for even more delicious recipes with tons of fruits and vegetables.

Juice: Health food or junk food?

Often people suggest that instead of softdrink, they will have a juice. I’ll put it out there – I hate juice. It provides a false sense of security as it comes from something healthy like fruit. However, when you look at how many teaspoons of sugar a juice has, you may think again!

A freshly squeezed medium sized fruit juice typically contains around 11 teaspoons of sugar, and while it may be natural and not refined cane sugar, ultimately, it’s still sugar with none of the fibre you’d get from eating the whole fruit. I always like to think about how many oranges you would need to juice to get a glass of juice – would you eat that many oranges in one sitting? I would say probably not!

Juice teaspoon sugar

Just as a side note, the type of juice we are talking about here, is not your popular juice bar smoothies.   Smoothies from these shops can have up to 30 teaspoons of sugar in a serve!! (eeek!) That is astounding – especially considering they are marketed as a healthy product!  The worst of these are those that are based on frozen yoghurt, sorbet, fruit concentrates and syrups.

If you choose to buy a juice, get one which is freshly squeezed, stick to a small size and combine the fruit with even more vegetables.  If you must buy supermarket juice, choose those that have no added sugar and include the pulp – however keep you serve to 1/4 of a glass and dilute it with lots of water!

Another even better alternative, why not make your own Green Smoothie at home!  For information about Green Smoothies head to my blog post all about them here.