Remember the Food Pyramid? Our visual guide to responsible food choices has been updated and simplified. The USDA has replaced the Food Pyramid with “My Plate” which shows recommendations for what portion of your meal should be made up of each food group, half of which should be fruit and vegetables.
How does your diet measure up? Women ages 19-30 are recommended to consume the equivalent of 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. Men are recommended 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables per day. These guidelines are for people who engage in less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day, so the recommendation for people with active jobs or who exercise regularly will be greater.
What constitutes a cup of fruit? Typically a piece of whole fruit (like an apple) 1 full cup of diced fresh fruit, 1/2 cup of dried fruit or 1 cup of 100% fruit juice. However, if you’re replacing your fruit servings with juice (even if it is 100% juice with no added sugar) you’ll be missing out on dietary fiber, which is an important part of daily nutrition. As we always say here at Breaktime, everything in moderation!
I don’t need to tell you that fruit plays an important role in your health, but you might be interested to know that besides containing important nutrients that lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, it also helps keep your dentist happy by contributing to your tooth and gum health. Many fruits are loaded with fiber which can lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes as well as reducing cholesterol. Vitamin C, potassium and folic acid are among the other amazing nutrients that boost your health.
Getting the recommended daily value doesn’t have to be difficult. Make it easier for yourself by having prepared, pre-portioned fruit ready to go, making you more likely to reach for the right choice when hunger strikes. You can dice up melon, pineapple, or strawberries in Tupperware in the fridge. One of the great things about fruit is that much of is is portable and already preportioned for you! Apples, oranges, bananas, and peaches are ready to throw in a purse or brief case without having to worry too much about temperature. If you like to indulge in the occasional bowl of ice cream, sprinkle it with berries in place of the hot fudge. Grab a banana and some yogurt instead of a donut in the morning.
If you’re worried about pesticides and the like, here is a great guide to avoiding pesticides in fruit and vegetables without the expense of buying 100% of your produce organic. I’m glad to see that some of my favorite produce is on the list of least contaminated (like onions, asparagus, cabbage, and kiwi!). Reducing your exposure to pesticides is wonderful, but keep in mind : “eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.” ~Donna Wiss, Juice +