It’s the original mom’s injunction: Eat your vegetables. Specifically, add three servings per day—although fruit counts, too. Only 25% of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, yet the recommended number for most adults is about nine. Plants are the absolute foundation of a healthy diet, providing all sorts of nutrients and fibers that play a role in disease prevention. Eating more plants tends to displace higher-calorie foods, balancing your diet and controlling hunger.
But it’s not easy. Fruits and vegetables are still underrepresented in American restaurants, making it hard to get your share when you’re out. Spinach dip gets you nowhere, and apple pie, tasty as it is, is not the ideal fruit delivery system. In supermarkets, especially during cold months, it’s hard to find rich variety in great condition until you stare down the turnip, the parsnip, and the squash. Vegetables such as these require prep and cooking time that you might feel you don’t have. But remember the invaluable frozen-food case, offering peas, corn, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and more.
What You Need to Know
An average serving of produce is one-half cup (one cup for leafy greens). It gets a little tricky with some foods (an apple, depending on size, can be two or three servings). Get guidance for different kinds of produce here: Fruits and Vegetables: How Much Is a Serving?