This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Fruits'n'Vegetables: "Eat 5 to 9 a Day"

How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat a day? According to this WSJ article, the National Cancer Institute (NIC) recommends that men should eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, women should eat 7, and children 5.

That sounds like a lot, but a serving is a lot smaller than you think. Here are some examples from the article:

A six-ounce glass of fruit or vegetable juice, which is about the size of a small foam cup, counts. So does a medium-size orange, banana or apple. One cup of salad greens, about the size of your fist or a baseball, is considered a serving. To estimate the right amount of chopped fruits and vegetables, measure out a half-cup or imagine a scoop of ice cream or seven cotton balls. Three medium asparagus spears, eight carrot sticks or one ear of corn all equal one serving. For dried fruit like raisins, measure one-fourth cup, which is about the size of an egg. [Lauren's Note: I recommend eating grapes instead of raisins because 2 cups of grapes have the same amount of calories as in 1/4 cup of raisins].

The reason for eating so many fruits and vegetables is because there are significant health benefits to doing so:

A Harvard School of Public Health study of 120,000 nurses or health workers found that those who had very high intake of fruits and vegetables had the lowest risk for heart disease. For every additional serving of fruits and vegetables eaten regularly, a person lowers their risk for heart disease by 4%. Another study found that women who ate seven to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowered their heart-attack risk by 40%. In other studies, fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure.

As an aside, I think the reason why so many Americans are overweight is because they overestimate serving sizes in general. Here's an online Food Guide Pyramid which should look familiar. If, like me, you eat a lot of ethnic food and wonder how your diet fits maps into the Pyramid, the Food and Nutrition Information Center has links to Pyramids for special audiences, including those for young children (preschool nutrition), children (ages 7-10), seniors, vegetarians and a variety of ethnic groups (Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Italian, etc.)

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