It is currently recommended that one should eat 5 or more servings of variety of fruits and vegetables daily to prevent cancer and heart disease. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and are low in calories. Those with the most color – dark green, red, yellow and orange – have the most nutrients. Carrot, Celery, Cantaloupe, Cucumber and Corn are the five “Cs” which can be incorporated in the five a day diet. One should mix all seven colors and six tastes when choosing fruits and vegetables.
The USDA new Food Plate recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain fiber, particularly soluble fiber, may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Fiber-containing grains, fruits and vegetables also reduce the risk of some cancers, said Padma Shri, Dr. B C Roy National Awardee & DST National Science Communication Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India and Honorary Secretary General IMA.
A serving size is: one medium-size fruit, 1/2 cup raw or cooked fruits or vegetables, 180 ml fruit or vegetable juice, 1/2 cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas), 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/4 cup dried fruit.
Five servings mean 2 fruits and 3 vegetables; 7 servings means 3 fruits and 4 vegetables and 9 servings means 4 fruits and 5 vegetables.
Tips for safe eating
*Snack with raw vegetables instead of potato chips.
*Add fruits in breakfast.
*Prefer fresh fruit juice instead of a usual coffee, tea or soda.
*Wash fruits and vegetables with water and scrub with a dish brush when appropriate.
*Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage.
*Peel and cook when appropriate, although some nutrients and fiber may be lost when produce is peeled.
*Avoid fruits and vegetables that look brownish, slimy or dried out. These are signs that the product has been held at an improper temperature.
*Wash chopping boards with hot water, soap and a scrub brush to remove food particles.
*Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially fresh whole fruits and vegetables and raw meat, poultry and fish. Clean under fingernails, too.