Do you dash to the freezer section of the local supermarket on your way home from work to get that microwave dinner or something quick for the kids? It’s an understandable part of modern life that can have unfortunate side effects.
Fewer than one in ten Americans have the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables according to their calorie requirements.
Fruit and vegetables are important because they may protect you from chronic diseases, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. For instance, broccoli can decrease your risk of cancer as it contains a substance called sulforaphane which may protect against inflammation and cytokine production. Both inflammation and cytokines are known triggers for the development of cancer.
Eating more than five portions of different fruit and vegetables a day is also thought to guard against stroke. Various analyses of data showed that fruit and vegetables had a protective effect against both ischaemic (mini-stroke) and haemorrhagic stroke.
Researchers from St. George’s University of London in the UK recommended that people eat more than five portions a day. They thought that this recommendation would cause a major reduction in the number of strokes.
So, how many fruits and vegetables should you eat?
The CDC say that this depends on your age, gender and activity level. How many calories you need depends on your body weight and how fast you burn off the calories.
If you are sitting down for the majority of the day, you are unlikely to need as much food as someone who is active. To find out how much you or your children need, go here: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/index.html
How to Get Your Portions
Portions can be drinks and snacks too, so you don’t need to have big portions at meal times. For instance, dried fruit for snacking on, such as dates or sultanas, are a portion. Fruit smoothies may count as two portions if they contain the skin of the fruit.
Beans or pulses also count as a portion and each type of vegetable you put with the main meal will be an extra portion.
A side salad with the meal is a portion and so are strawberries for dessert.