Expert dietary guidelines have it all wrong, despite recently increasing the daily minimums. A new study finds that five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is only half what is needed to live a longer, healthier life. Keeping the grim reaper at bay calls for 10 servings of fruit and veg.
Scientists at the Imperial College London say consuming ten 80 gram portions of fruits and vegetables daily could greatly reduce your risk of disease. And less disease, means preventing premature deaths. The research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology estimates that 7.8 million lives globally could be lengthened simply by including 800 grams of fruits and vegetables in your diet every.
The previously accepted 5 portions is much better than the earlier mantra that 3 servings a day was a healthy diet – but it’s not enough protection against strokes, heart and cardiovascular diseases, or cancer. All of which are leading causes of early deaths worldwide.
So, exactly how much more fruits and vegetables does that mean? Taken as a whole, 800 grams of weight is equal to 1.75 pounds. The 80 gram ‘portion’ is equal to just under 3 ounces, which in metric weighs in at 85 grams. Don’t try to convert it into cups, because grams being a weight measurement, mass will vary wildly from food to food. It’s safer to simplify it by a portion being about 1/5 of a pound.
You don’t necessarily have to add loads more fruit and veg to your daily intake level. Fruits and vegetables that are ingredients in a recipe do count. For instance, if you take 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes, a large green pepper, a medium onion, and turn it into pasta sauce by adding some herbs, garlic, mushrooms, and meat – you’ve made substantial progress on meeting that daily quota. Just figure out the full weight of the pepper and onion, then divide by how many servings the sauce covers.
A word to the wise – prepackaged foods, like the example of spaghetti sauce above don’t count. You have no way of calculating what portion of the stuff in the jar translates into a fruit or vegetable. Just one more reason why home cooked meals are better for you. You can keep track of what’s going in, and therefore, what you’ll gain from it in the end.
Not that we all don’t have days when things are just crazy busy, or you’re far from home with no place but the burger joint to eat. Does that mean you’ve failed at eating a healthy diet? No, the occasional off day won’t instantly and hugely increase your risk disease and early death. However, stressing out over it could. Too much stress isn’t good either. It can cause early aging, heart problems, and affect you mental health in undesirable ways.
So, how are you going to get twice as many servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily meals and snacks? Whether you can afford to double your purchases in the produce department, or not. It’s definitely time to start growing your own, and as wide an assortment of fresh foods as possible too. Because heavy crop damage on commercial farms translates into shortages at your local stores, and price hikes too.
For instance, right now there is fruit and vegetable shortages and rationing going on in the UK. It’s due to heavy winter storms causing crop failures in Spain. Wholesalers and chains are scrambling to find new supply sources. But until they do, people are tweeting in search of this or that fruit or vegetable… The stores are out, and there’s a per customer purchase limit on fresh stock as it comes in.
People in the USA will be finding this somewhat familiar before too long too. Those floods and excessive rainfall in California are going to affect fruit and vegetable supply lines. Perhaps more so in the west than east of the Mississippi, but there’s still plenty of produce from California on store displays half way between Big Muddy and the Atlantic coastline.
If you want affordable fruits and vegetables, you need to grow them at home. The same is true of having top quality produce. Because if you’re not buying it farm direct, and within a day or two of harvest, a lot of the health benefits you’re after have declined. If you want to make sure that things like weather, and other events beyond your control, don’t leave you empty handed – plant a garden – indoors and/or outside.
And here’s another benefit of growing your own that will come in handy on a truly hectic day… making your own prepared foods from the harvest and preserving them at home gives you the inside scoop. Suddenly that jar of pasta sauce has quantifiable fruit and vegetable portions you can work with. Fruit in spaghetti sauce? Yes. Tomatoes and peppers are technically fruits, while onions are true vegetables.
If you haven’t read, The 10-a-day diet tested at The Guardian, take the time to do so. Not only does it add great further facts to this topic, but Stuart’s tales of entry into eating to live forever is both informative and entertaining. Don’t drink while reading… water, coffee, soda, anything really. It might end up on your screen.