The 5 A Day for Better Health Program was formed in 1991 after extensive studies and research found that people who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of other health conditions. They recommend a minimum of 1 lb. of fruit and vegetables per day which translates roughly into 5 portions a day.
How It Works
Vegetables and fruits contain many micronutrients, substances that are there only in minute quantities, but which are essential for the healthy functioning of the body. These include vitamins and minerals, some of which contain substances known as antioxidants. The most valuable are beta-carotene, (which the body converts to vitamin A), vitamin C, and vitamin E. What do they do? Normal cell activity of the body produces free radicals, which are molecules that have lost one electron. These deficient molecules will try to take an electron from another molecule and may start a chain reaction that can disturb the body's chemical balance and damage cells. Anti-oxidants will donate electrons for free radicals to take, and thus check the spreading of free radicals. Free radicals can also be created by cigarette smoke and exposure to various chemicals. Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber and are low in fat and calories. Choosing them rather than fatty, sugary foods can help maintain or reduce weight offers many other health benefits.
What is a Portion?
A portion is roughly 3 ounces, which is equal to:
- One medium-size fruit
- 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
- 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
How Many Servings Do You Need Each Day?
Children (2-6 yrs.), women, and those who typically need about 1,600 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 5 servings – 2 fruits, 3 vegetables Older children, teen girls, active women, and most men who typically need about 2,200 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 7 servings – 3 fruits, 4 vegetables Teen boys and active men, who typically need about 2,800 calories to reach or maintain a healthy weight: 9 servings – 4 fruits, 5 vegetables
Tips on Getting Your 5-9 A Day
- Breakfast: Include a glass of orange juice, 1/2 a grapefruit, or a quick smoothie using frozen fruit.
- Lunch: Include a salad with several vegetables or a leafy green salad.
- Dinner: Two portions of cooked vegetables (such as carrots and peas) or a baked potato. Whip up a vegetable stir-fry!
- Snacks: Grab an apple or banana or dried fruit. Keep an easy-to-grab, pre-washed bowl of fruit on the counter.
Information from this article was taken from "Eat More Fruit and Vegetables" an article by Harry Mather in Vegan Views Magazine, www.veganviews.org.uk.