Did you know that September 22 to 28 is 5 A Day for Better Health Week? Groups of people who consistently eat at least five to 10 servings of fruits or vegetables a day have been shown to significantly reduce their incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fluid and fiber. These are all important in the fight against many chronic and debilitating diseases.
Fruits and vegetables contain natural compounds that are thought to help in the fight against disease. These phytochemicals (plant chemicals) have names such as flavonoids, carotenoids, lycopenes and phytoestrogens. The best way to obtain these health-promoting compounds is to eat fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables or their juice.
Fruits and vegetables add color and crunch, flavor and fluid to soups, salads, side dishes, beverages and desserts. Every part of a meal is made a little prettier or tastier with the addition of fruits and vegetables. What would chili be without onions? How could a salad exist without lettuce or vegetables?
Since the launch of President Bush's Healthy Eating Campaign, several private agencies have linked with government agencies to encourage consumers to increase their daily produce intake. In the United States, the campaign is entitled "5 A Day: Produce for Better Health". In Canada, the campaign is "Five to Ten A Day". Why not split the difference and use your own slogan, such as "Five to Nine and Feeling Fine"? During a recent speech, President Bush said that he and his family tried very hard to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Health professionals worldwide are encouraging everyone to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. It is estimated that most people would have to at least double their current intake to achieve this. The first step in this direction would be to realize what a serving is. Here are some guidelines for one serving of a fruit or vegetable:
• 1 medium fruit or vegetable, such as an apple, an orange, a peach, a carrot or a small tomato
• ½ cup cooked dried peas or beans
• ¼ cup dried fruit, such as apricots, apples, figs or raisins
• ¾ cup fresh or frozen or canned fortified fruit or vegetable juice
• 1 cup fresh vegetable salad, such as spinach, romaine or mixed vegetables
• ¾ cup fresh or frozen fruit salad
Here are healthy ways to start your day:
• Add fruit to cereal
• Make a fruit smoothie
• Top toast, muffins, pancakes or waffles with fruit
• Take fruit along as a snack
• Add fruit to yogurt
• Make soup and salad part of your lunch routine
Here are some more ideas for "Five-a-Day-ing" the menu:
• Enjoy a large salad
• Eat vegetable soup or chili a few times per week
• Make a meal out of a baked potato and salad
• Load your sandwich with plenty of veggies
• Low sodium tomato juice or vegetable juice
• Celery, zucchini or cucumber sticks "stuffed" with salsa
• Whole-wheat pita filled with shredded carrots, chopped Romaine and mashed avocado
• Make a big taco salad using beans, rice, lettuce, chips, salsa and plenty of vegetables
• Eat spaghetti with plenty of marinara sauce and add in some mixed frozen vegetables
• Try a stir-fry dish with plenty of fresh or frozen vegetables
• Baked apple or pear with raisins
• Fresh seasonal fruit salad with yogurt dressing and fresh mint
• Peach or strawberry sorbet with sliced bananas and dried fruit
• Mixed fruit with lemon juice and cinnamon
Reference: "Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective," The American Institute for Cancer Research, 1999, on 6/29/02 at www.5to10day.com/eng/about.htm
By Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.