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4 ways you'll feel better after eating fruit and vegetables for a week
Most adults don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, dietary intake of several nutrients found in fruits and vegetables — including potassium and dietary fibre — is low enough to be a public health concern for both adults and children in the US, and in Australia.
"The bottom line is that most Aussies are not eating enough vegetables each day," Alexandra Parker, accredited practising dietitian of The Biting Truth, told HuffPost Australia.
The health consequences can be serious. For example, there is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A study of over 100,000 mean and women over 14 years found that, compared with those in the lowest category of fruit and vegetable intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30% less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke.
Although all fruits and vegetables likely contributed to this benefit, green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens, were most strongly associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
What's perfect is to fill half your plate with vegetables at all main meals. That may not sound very scientific, but it is a whole lot better than worrying about the details.
Add in variety and a couple of pieces of fresh fruit, and you will start to feel the difference. That's all I do - I pay attention to mixing the colours, eating 5 or so serves daily, and eating some fruit.
How you do that starts with shopping! Typically, in this kind of article, we jump into the health benefits, and what should go onto the plate.
Not in this case! Let's start at the shop.
It sounds obvious, I know. But to eat your colours, you have to shop colourful.
As you drop things into your trolley, get that colour balance right.
Have you got a traffic light of colour? Some green fruits and veggies? Some orange and/or yellow? Red? Once you have a traffic light, turn it into a rainbow. Add some in-between tones - brown or white, blue and purple.
Try to buy fresh whole fruits and vegetables in season — they will be at their peak in flavour and their lowest price - and stock your freezer with colours.
Buy enough colours - here's how to count
Do the maths on how much you need.
If there are 3 people in your family, then you need enough vegetables for 15 serving and enough fruit for 6 servings each day. That's five servings of vegetables and 2 of fruit.
If you are buying for three days, you need enough for 45 servings of as many colours of vegetables as possible, and 6 servings of fruit. Buying the fruit is not so hard, but you need to use your imagination to buy the vegetables.
Visualise the servings from a whole vegetable and mix and match the "whole" vegetables with the ones that come in natural serving sizes, e.g. carrots, celery or beans.
What counts as a vegetable serving?
A standard serve of vegetables is about 75g. Use these serving size examples:
What counts as a fruit serving?
Fruit servings are easier to imagine than vegetable servings, for example:
Finding new ways to eat vegetables
Sometimes it is hard to think of ways to eat five servings of vegetables every day. Use these ideas to spark your imagination:
After one week on fruit and vegetables this is how you'll feel
Eat your serves of vegetable and fruit every day for a week, and you'll really start to notice the difference:
Maintaining a healthy diet also helps maintain a healthy weight, which promotes self-esteem, reduces the likelihood of depression and gives you more energy to enjoy life.
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