Overheard On Campus: How many fruits and vegetables should I eat daily?

Contributed by Amma Marfo, M.Ed.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles

Fruits and vegetables rock my world. No, really they do. I always feel good about myself when I’ve eaten healthily – I have more energy and I’m not as sluggish. A lot of people look at a salad and think, “Ugh!” But, the more you eat, the better you feel. How many you should eat each day I’ll leave up to Amma Marfo, a graduate student at University of South Florida and one of our contributors. She says …

Raspberries

Marilyn Manson addressed a very similar question with his “Food Pyramid Song” just a few years ago! The recommendations for how many fruits and vegetables to eat vary so widely, it’s hard to know what you should be eating. “Three to five of vegetables and four fruits is best,” according to Marilyn. But in actuality, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends about nine servings, or four and a half cups, for the average adult each day. And with benefits that include lower risk of heart disease and cancer and lower body weight, why wouldn’t we want to eat as many as possible?

When eating fruits and vegetables, strive for as much variety in color as possible. Don’t just think green (like lettuce or spinach). Look for lots of reds, purples, and blues (like peppers or berries), as well as oranges and yellows (like carrots and squash). Throw in nuts or dried fruits for textural variety – it’ll add iron, and the healthy fat and protein from nuts will help you to digest!

But before you break out your salad tongs and prepare for hours and hours of forcing down salad, remember that there are lots of ways to get your fruits and vegetables in your diet! Most 100% fruit juices count as a serving of fruit, and many juice companies have started making delicious fruit/vegetable juice hybrids, so you won’t even know that you’re being healthy!

And for those days where you feel like you want to cheat, mix one box of Devil’s food cake mix with one can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but pumpkin purée), spread in a 13×9 cake pan, and bake for 40 minutes for brownies that will rival the best you’ve ever had WITH lower fat and higher fiber! I promise, you won’t be sorry!

Best of luck to you, and be well!

Share your tips for getting enough fruits and vegetables in the comments. We want to know your healthy eating secrets!

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