At my most recent visit to the rheumatologist, I was instructed to eat as much as 11 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I said, “wow, that sounds like a lot!” My doctor’s response was that it was not as much as you might think when 1/2 cup counts as a serving.
Counting full and half cups of fruits and vegetables is part of a new campaign “Fruits and Veggies-More Matters” launched by the CDC. Lots of information, including tips and recipes, can be found at FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov. When visualizing amounts of food, it may be easier to picture kitchen measuring cups, rather than guessing whether a large piece of fruit counts as one or two servings.
On the homepage of Fruits and Veggies Matter is an interactive tool which tells you how many cups of fruits and vegetables are recommended based on age and gender. For a 42 year old female who engages in a low level of physical activity, the recommendation is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day, based on an average 1800 calories/day diet.
What counts as one cup of fruit or vegetables?
Examples of one cup servings of fruit or vegetables include:
- 2 clementines, 1 large orange, 1 medium grapefruit, 1 small apple, 1 medium pear, 1 large banana, 2 large plums, 8 large strawberries, 1 cup of blueberries, 8 oz of 100% fruit juice, 2 small boxes of raisins or 2 snack containers of applesauce
- 1 large sweet potato, 1 medium potato, 1 large ear of corn, 2 large stalks of celery, 2 large carrots or 12 baby carrots, 10 broccoli florets, 1 cup of green beans, 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw greens (lettuce, spinach, or other leafy greens), 1 cup dried beans*
*Note: I frequently forget that beans are not just a good source of protein, but that they are a vegetable. Extra bonus is that they are also a great source of dietary fiber.
Fiber and Digestive Health
In addition to thinking about nutrition and weight matters lately, I am learning firsthand about the health benefits of fiber. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts provide excellent sources of fiber. Not only are these foods good for overall nutrition, they also protect against developing certain digestive disorders.
Although I’m only 42 years old, I underwent my very first colonoscopy as a grandparent had colon cancer. We wanted to rule out more serious causes of my periodic bouts of digestive problems. While no polyps or other suspicious tissue was seen, I did receive a new diagnosis...diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis is a condition characterized by small pouches in the large intestines often caused by chronically increased pressure or strain on the colon wall such as from chronic constipation. The pouches can become inflamed and cause significant complications. A high-fiber diet helps to protect against diverticulosis and just like many Americans, I have not been eating enough fiber.