Getting 10 Servings Of Produce Every Day
Since childhood, most people know that eating a diet rich in healthy foods and limited in treats, sweets, and salty or fried food is important for overall health. To further drive home the point, government agencies and health groups developed the concept of food groups. While the style has shifted from the four food groups to a pyramid to today’s MyPlate, society is focused on improving education around healthy eating. Still, not all people are aware of exactly how many servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed regularly.
Fruits and veggies aren’t the same food group
Adults probably remember learning about the four food groups in school: meats and proteins, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and grains. But in 1992 the classic four-group plan was replaced by a food pyramid which wasn’t always easy to understand. Today’s MyPlate format creates a streamlined design that separates fruits and vegetables but labels meat and legumes under protein. Now, experts focus on the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy.
Where did 10 servings come from?
10 servings may seem like an arbitrary number. But significant research went into determining the right amount of fruit and vegetable consumption to provide better health outcomes. A 2017 study specifically looked at the relationship between produce intake and the incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, or even premature death. The comprehensive study dove into a wide range of previously conducted studies as far back as 1940 and from around the world. Researchers found that respondents who ate 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a significantly lower risk of serious disease. Note though, that for cancer the benchmark was 7-7.5 servings per day as no noticeable benefit was found in patients who ate more.
The servings disconnect
Currently, the US recommends that adults get anywhere from 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. But the idea of eating 10 servings can seem overwhelming, leading many people to give up in frustration. Meanwhile, common objections to reaching the coveted 10-serving guideline include the perceived cost associated with buying fruits and vegetables, as well as the idea that preparing produce has to be difficult or time-consuming.
Overcome the objections
Getting enough fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean that a person can only consume fresh produce. Canned and frozen alternatives will still count towards daily goals. Additionally, consider innovative ways to work in extra servings such as eating low-sodium salsa dip, usually around 1-2 tablespoons. At every meal, experts recommend that people follow the MyPlate model, which shows fruits and vegetables occupying half the space on a plate. When in doubt, speak with a physician or registered dietician for tips on increasing produce consumption. Similarly, these experts can recommend tips or resources to make buying fruit and vegetables more affordable.