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We all know that our food choices affect our health. What’s difficult is figuring out what we should eat and how much we should eat. The fact that so-called experts disagree on so many points does not make it any easier.

Let’s take a look at some common sense suggestions. It’s been well documented that a good diet incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables can help you ward off a number of health problems such as:

  • heart disease and stroke
  • help control blood pressure
  • help prevent some types of cancer
  • help prevent diverticulitis
  • guard against common causes of vision loss

How Many Servings Should You Eat

The average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables a day and should be eating about 9 servings (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables).

A Cup Isn’t Always A Cup

Are you ready for some cup rules? There are two main exceptions to what a cup is: Lettuce and raw leafy greens need to be doubled up on. That means you need to eat 2 cups to get the equivalent of 1 cup of vegetables. Dried fruit works the opposite way; you only need ½ cup to get the equivalent of 1 cup of fresh fruit.

We now have a solid base of evidence to back up what our moms have been telling us about fruits and vegetables for so long. Fruits and vegetables have been praised as cancer-fighting foods for some time now, but the latest research suggests that the biggest payoff from eating fruits and vegetables is for the heart.

Which Fruits and Vegetables Are Best

We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but are they all created equal? Evidence seems to indicate that some are better than others. Studies show that having more than 5 servings per day can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 20%.

The top contenders are:

  • green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and mustard greens
  • broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale
  • cauliflower, cabbage
  • oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. (2)

Fiber Matters

One of the best things we get from fruits and vegetables is indigestible fiber. Fiber calms the bowel and promotes regular bowel movements to relieve or prevent constipation. The bulking and softening action of insoluble fiber decreases pressure inside the intestinal tract and may help prevent diverticulosis.

These Food Choices Affect Our Health in a Good Way:

Quantity is important, but so is variety. As in anything else diet related, too much of a good thing can often turn into a bad thing. We need to eat have a variety of foods to get the nutrients we need.

  • Darker vegetables are usually packed with more nutrients.
  • Make a stir fry once a week. They’re tasty and can provide a good portion of your daily requirement in one meal.
  • Buy your fruit twice a week and keep them in handy serving bowls in several locations in your house.
  • Fruits and vegetables make great snacks. Have your fruit with yogurt and your vegetables with a hummus dip.
  • Be willing to try new varieties you may not have sampled. Anytime you see something on sale is the perfect opportunity.
  • Potatoes don’t count as a vegetable serving; they’re more of a starch.
  • Have the odd vegetarian meal. Try some new recipes and see what you’ve been missing.