Everyone always hears that you need multiple servings of fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet. I remember the older food pyramid in the U.S. recommending 5 servings a day; a couple years ago that increased to 8-9 servings per day. The idea of 8-9 servings a day of anything is discouraging enough to make me want to hide in the corner with a box of Twinkies. But who even understands what exactly is “one serving”? As usual, the U.S. CDC can help us out.
There’s a great website from the US CDC called “Fruits and Veggies Matter“. The website has a lot of resources for consumers as well as health professionals, including a really fun and useful “Analyze My Plate” interactive menu where you can drag-and-drop foods. And the best news is they’ve made it easier to understand “servings” as a more user-friendly “cup” portion. The front page has a nice calculator to determine how many cups a day you need. For example, I did the calculator and got instant recommendations that I need 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables every day. I find that a lot more approachable than the generic “8-9 total servings a day”. Also, they have a nice group of photos that show exactly how much each portion counts as a cup. It’s great and very readable information that you can easily show children as well. For example, 1 small banana in cereal = 1/2 cup.
Fruits & Veggies Can Lower Blood Pressure
Now is as good a time as any to replay my slideshow on high blood pressure, the world’s #1 killer. People may not realize that diet alone can lower blood pressure! This slideshow below discusses all the healthy, non-prescription ways to lower your risk for blood pressure. I strongly recommend you watch it full-screen; just click on the “full” icon below the slide.
(Most of this article was originally printed in an earlier MyHealth Beijing article; I am reposting some archives as I am on vacation now. I return to work on May 2nd at my new position at Beijing United Family Hospital, where I continue my family medicine practice but also am their new Group Director of Clinical Marketing and Communications for their national chain of hospitals.)