UPDATE: The last two of our weekly healthful lifestyle suggestions have been to increase the amount of vegetable and fruits to your diet. Interestingly, a recent study (the Haines II Survey) showed that only 9 percent of the population consumed three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit, as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture's "Dietary Guidelines." Twenty-two percent had no vegetables on the recall day, and 45 percent consumed no fruit or juice.
There is no way a diet can be well-balanced without fruits and vegetables because of the nutrients they contain. In addition, these foods are critical to the amount of fiber in the diet. The Cancer Institute currently recommends 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. People in this study who ate no fruit or vegetables obtained only 5.6 grams.Even though fruits and vegetables are easy to find and readily available, the researchers cited preferences for other foods (such as fast foods) and high prices as possible reasons for low consumption of fruit and vegetables. They called for a massive educational campaign to improve this aspect of our diet.
In another related report from the Nutrition and Cancer Prevention Program of the California Department of Health Services (from "Food Insight - IFIC Food Education Foundation"), researchers found that two out of three Californians ate less than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. More than a third ate two or fewer servings of these important foods. The data from this survey are being used to plan and evaluate a program called "Five a Day - For Better Health," which began in August 1988. "Five a Day" encourages Californians to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day to reduce their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The results of this survey made it clear that a special program is necessary for the health and welfare of most people because the low intake of fruits and vegetables crossed all socio-economic and gender lines.
What about those of us who live in the Mountain States? I have seen no survey about "us," but I suspect that we also fail to eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, since I wrote the suggestions from our consulting dietician, Barbara Higa, I have been tracking my own intake of fruits and vegetables and have begun to realize how difficult it is to eat enough of these important foods. Higa suggested from two to four servings of both fruits and vegetables a day.
Let me suggest a "Five a Day" program for all of us. Count your servings, and if you are short at the end of the day, go to the refrigerator and catch up with a carrot, an apple or some other fruit or vegetable.Healthful lifestyle goals:
- Exercise: Maintain last week's goals.
- Diet: Work on the "Five a Day" program for the coming week. Try to get at least five fruits and vegetables every day! Good luck!