It is universally known that fruits and vegetables are good for our health and should be eaten every day. In fact, "5-a-Day for Better Health" encourages consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Unfortunately, most Americans don't even get this much. Have you ever attempted to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in one day? What would this look like? Think of a serving as the amount that can fit in the palm of your hand and note this example day of eating:
• 1 cup of blueberries with cereal for breakfast (2 servings), a medium salad (3 cups) for lunch (3 servings), a large apple with peanut butter for a snack (2 servings), 1 ½ cups cooked vegetables with dinner (3 servings), 1 cup of strawberries and whipped cream for dessert (2 servings). 12 total servings for the day.
The cost for these 12 servings? Under $4, depending on the season. That's $28 a week for 84 servings! If you grow some of your own produce, this will cut your costs even more. If we all ate this many servings, the medical industry would suffer a severe financial blow as we would significantly decrease our risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer. Not only that, but fruits and vegetables are composed of a high amount of water keeping them low in calories, which would cause us to feel fuller longer and lead to weight loss (or weight maintenance if already at a healthy weight). As you can see, a "12-A-Day" diet can most certainly be attained on a daily basis. Give yourself a shot at it and see how you do. Nature offers so many varieties of fruits and vegetables, the options are endless.
If you have just one health-related goal when you wake up in the morning, make sure you eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. Who knows, you just might end up eating 12 servings. Even if you don't, you will certainly get more than five. Of course, a man needs a few more servings per day than a woman does.
Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian and has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 10 years. Reach him at (480) 215-4458.