The big news from the recent European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcleona was that we probably shouldn’t worry so much about how much fat we eat. But the other big news from that meeting was lost in the headlines about fat. This other news was about how much fruits and vegetables we should eat per day for optimum health.
Current recommendations by international medical societies have suggested we eat at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. Some nutritional experts have recommended 9 servings per day. But this latest study (called the PURE study), which analyzed over 135,000 people from 18 countries around the globe, and over 7 years, concluded we don’t need that much.
3 to 4 servings adequate
The conclusion of this PURE study was that 3 to 4 servings per day (about 375-500 grams/day) was fine, and that eating more than that gave no further health improvements. People who ate more than 3 to 4 servings did not enjoy a lower risk of cardiovascular disease or death during the study,
Raw, and fruits, the healthiest
The results suggested that while both fruits and vegetables were highly valuable, if you had to choose between the two, that fruits were slightly healthier. Further, the results showed that raw fruits and vegetables were healthier than cooked.
Feel free to eat more
Despite this study, we at ProcuraMed encourage you to eat more than 3 to 4 servings per day. For one reason, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less you will need to eat other, more calorie dense foods, such as meats and especially foods high in simple carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and water, and that fills us up better, and healthier, than other types of foods.
Eat a rainbow of colors each day
But no matter if you eat 3 servings per day or 9 servings per day, nutritional experts all agree that your best bet is not to just eat one or two types per day, but to eat a variety. The best way to make your variety is based on color. The difference in colors in fruits and vegetables is because they have different phytochemicals, all of which are good for us in different ways. For example, the blue in blueberries is due to anthocyanin compounds, carrots are orange due to carotenoids, and red onions are rich in quercetin. All act in our bodies in different ways, but all have antioxidant qualities.
Great vegetables-fruits from each color class
While there are many different color classifications, we use the simplified 4 color classification system below. Note that the items in bold, while each is very healthy, tends to have a higher pesticide content. So especially for these, try to buy organic, and/or wash well!
Broccoli, Spinach, Green Pepper, Collard Greens, Parsley, Avocados, Limes, Dark Lettuce (not Iceberg)
Cantaloupe, Oranges, Papaya, Mango, Carrot, Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Pineapple
Grapes, Strawberries, Beets, Eggplant, Blueberries, Red Cabbage, Red Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onions, Watermelon, Purple Potatoes, Red Chilies
Banana, Apples, Cauliflower, Pears, Potatoes, Onions, Garlic
Do your best to have one or more from each of these groups. It will give you the widest antioxidant protection. Think rainbow at each meal, every day!
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