Fruit and Vegetable Intake
It’s long be touted that we need to consume adequate fruits and vegetables.  Many studies have shown that there are valid mechanism by which adequate fruit and vegetable intake supports longer health span and life span (Joseph J et al., 2009).  Conversely, it has been shown that inadequate intake is associated with higher risk of illness and death (Rissanen TH et al., 2003).  Taken together, the evidence suggest that the benefits far outweigh the potential risks of consuming adequate fruits and vegetables and it can be downright dangerous to consume inadequate fruits and vegetables.

1)      Fruits and Vegetables
          Many food classification systems lump fruits and vegetables together because they have similar benefits.
         INADEQUATE fruit and vegetable intake has been linked to shorter life and greater risk of illness, especially CVD (Martínez-González MÁ, 2011) and cancer (Parkin DM, 2011).
–     Also adequate fruit and vegetable intake has been suggested to be protective against excess weight gain (i.e. overweight and obesity) (Maskarinec G et al., 2006).  This is not necessarily causal, but changing to more fruit and vegetable based diet has been shown to significantly decrease calories in the diet (Maskarinec G et al., 2006), which would help with weight loss.
          This year it’s time to explore locally grown fresh produce, so TAKE ADVANTAGE.  You can even join a local CSA program (
          Target about 7-10 servings per day for both together (
          When weight management is a goal, consider both fruits and vegetables separately.
–     Remember that the carbohydrates coming from whole fruits and vegetables are much more complex than the “processed” ones coming in refined grains.

2)      Fruits
          Significant source of natural fruit sugars.
          Flavorful and can be ++ beneficial to creating fruit smoothies – caution with amounts.
          If you are managing your weight, remember to use a) whole fruits, b) dried fruits then c) juice.

3)      Vegetables
          Some are significant sources of natural starches (i.e. starchy vegetables = potatoes, carrots, squash, turnip, etc…), but only countable carbohydrates when cooked.
          Tendency is to overcook (mushy).  Ideal is steaming for 10 mins.
          If you are managing your weight, remember to use a) fibrous vegetables, then b) starchy vegetables.

4)      Tips to add more into your diet.
          Make a point to have 2- 3 servings of fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Ideally use a combination of both at each meal.
          When managing your weight, attempt to consume at least 5-6 servings of fibrous vegetables (non-starchy), then the rest of your servings can come from whole fruits and/or starchy vegetables.
          Eat egg scrambles / omelets at breakfast with lots of fibrous vegetables.
          Fruit and vegetable smoothies are a great way to incorporate adequate servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily intakes.
·        Use a blender vs. a juicer keeps the fiber in the fruits and vegetables.
·        Use water to change the volume of the finished product without adding calories to the smoothie.
·        Combine vegetables with a bit of fruit and you will mostly taste the fruit item.
o       Sample Recipe:  My wife and I use this (and others) daily and blend in our Vitamix, then portion into about 3 – 4 sealed glasses so we can bring them with us for our day.  Our fruit and veg intake has increased significantly since incorporating this.
o       4 cups spinach/kale (raw, rinsed)
o       2-4 whole carrots (raw, washed or peeled)
o       1 cup frozen mixed berries or 2 cups frozen whole strawberries.
o       1 whole banana (or more to taste)
o       1-3 cups water to bring up to volume
o       TIP:  I often use one of these post workout.  You could add Greek Yogurt or Protein powder to increase protein content.

      Hope you learned something from this entry!  Be sure to leave any questions and topics you’d like to learn more about in the comments.  Also, please share with your friends by sharing the link through social media, if you like.  Thanks.

      Take care,


Rissanen TH, Voutilainen S, Virtanen JK, Venho B, Vanharanta M, Mursu J, Salonen JT.  Low intake of fruits, berries and vegetables is associated with excess mortality in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. J Nutr. 2003. Jan;133(1):199-204.

Joseph J, Cole G, Head E, Ingram D.  Nutrition, brain aging, and neurodegeneration.  J Neurosci. 2009 Oct 14;29(41):12795-801.

Martínez-González MÁ, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, López-Del-Burgo C, Vázquez-Ruiz Z, Benito S, Ruiz-Canela M.  Low consumption of fruit and vegetables and risk of chronic disease: a review of the epidemiological evidence and temporal trends among Spanish graduates.  Public Health Nutr. 2011 Dec;14(12):2309-15.

      Parkin DM, Boyd L, Walker LC.   16. The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010.  Br J Cancer. 2011 Dec 6;105 Suppl 2:S77-81. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.489.

Maskarinec G, Takata Y, Pagano I, Carlin L, Goodman MT, Le Marchand L, Nomura AM, Wilkens LR, Kolonel LN.  Trends and dietary determinants of overweight and obesity in a multiethnic population. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Apr;14 (4):717-26.

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