Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Daily Fruit and Vegetable Servings

How many whole fruits and vegetables do you eat daily? Here are guidelines you should be following to keep up on your body's need for these important foods:
  • Eat 95% of your daily produce as whole. Most Fruit and vegetable juices don't count as a serving. Why? Because these juices are highly processed, contain little more than carbohydrates and sugar, and unless otherwise noted are pasteurized (not raw) and have been stripped of their vital live nutrients. If you are juicing at home, the outcome has the potential to be better, but only if you follow specific guidelines. For example, many people use carrots and beets in juices because they taste good, but these vegetables in fact offer less nutrients and a higher glycemic index. It is important to start out slow with certain vegetables and over time add as many greens as possible to your juicing regimen. Visit Dr. Mercola for optimal juicing guidelines.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables do not count as a daily serving because again, they are highly processed, often contain fillers and chemicals (such as sulfur), and have a higher glycemic index than the whole fruit or vegetable because they have been dried.
  • Juice and vegetable supplements do not fully live up to their claims on packages. The best way to achieve optimal health is by eating real, whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Whenever possible, buy your produce local. This cuts out excess toxins which accumulate on produce from travel (and saves petroleum), even when they are organic.
  • Certified organic remains the best choice for produce. Organic varieties are lower in synthetic, persistent pesticides and herbicides. New research also suggests they are higher in nutrient and antioxidant value than the conventional variety. A study released in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1993 stated that organically grown foods contained 63 percent more calcium, 73 percent more iron, 118 percent more magnesium, 91 percent more phosphorus, 125 percent more potassium, 60 percent more zinc and a 178 percent more molybdenum than non-organic foods. Besides containing an impressive amount of minerals, the organically grown food was found to contain 29 percent less mercury, a potentially dangerous chemical. Another study published in the the 2003 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that organically grown fruits and vegetables contained significantly more antioxidants than food grown by conventional means.
  • Adults should eat 7 - 9 servings per day, while children should have at least 5. A serving equals 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup chopped raw, cooked, or frozen vegetables. Avoid canned as these vegetables have been processed and cooked, and do not offer the same nutrient value as frozen or fresh. One serving of fruit equals 1 medium-sized piece of whole fruit such as an apple or pear, or 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or frozen fruit.
  • Remember that nutrients and antioxidants don't last long in the body, so eat these foods throughout the day for optimal health. Snack on these foods between meals instead of chips, crackers, bagels, pretzels, and other similar processed foods.

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