Fruit, vegetable recommendations

Donovan GRANT

Monday, January 21, 2019

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DEAR DONOVAN,
What portion of fruits and vegetables is recommended everyday to maintain a healthy, balanced diet? I find that I eat mostly vegetables with lunch at work, as it's too expensive to buy veggies to eat every night with dinner. And then my fruit intake is sporadic, and happens only when I buy the occasional bag of bananas or apples from vendors on the street. How much of each should I actually be having, and is there any way to supplement this requirement when I'm on a budget? I'm currently pregnant, so I am a bit worried.

Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and disease-fighting substances. Several studies have shown that fruits and vegetables are very important in promoting good health. In fact, fruits and vegetables should be the backbone of a healthy diet.

Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, fat, sodium and zero in cholesterol compared to many other foods. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity. In addition, fruits and vegetables, because of their low glycaemic index, can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and therefore keep appetite in check. Therefore, eating fruits and vegetables may also play an important part in keeping the weight in check.

At least nine different families of fruits and vegetables exist. Each family has potentially hundreds of plant substances that are beneficial to health. Eating a variety of types and colours of fruits and vegetables will not only provide the nutrients you need, but also helps to colour up your meals.

The United States Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines recommend five to 13 servings of vegetables per day. This is dependent on age, gender, physical activity and overall health condition. If possible, you should choose to have different types and a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is also important to note that a serving of vegetables is about one cup of raw vegetables or half cup of cooked vegetables. A serving of fruits is about one medium piece or two small pieces.

Since you are pregnant, it is very important for you to eat nutritious and healthy foods and avoid junk food as you could be setting up your child to be eating badly throughout their lifetime. Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet will pretty much make sure you get enough minerals, vitamins and fibre for you and your child. It is also important to note that fruits and vegetables can also help to control your weight during pregnancy, as well as reduce constipation, which is a regular problem during pregnancy.

I must agree with you that in some cases fruits and vegetables can be expensive. However, making some adjustments in where, what time, and how much fruits and vegetables you buy might make a difference. First off, it is better to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. The next thing is that buying fruits and vegetables from the market will work out much cheaper than buying from the supermarket. If you go to the market in the evening you will also get cheaper prices than in the morning.

It might also be possible to freeze fruits and vegetables when they are in season and use them up when they are out of season. An effort can be made to substitute some of your carbohydrates, example bread, biscuits, flour and rice with fruits and vegetables. So some of the money that you would normally use to buy these carbohydrates can now be used for fruits and vegetables.

Another thing to note is that vegetables are usually not as exciting to eat as fruits. So it might be better in some cases to drink your vegetables in order to make sure you are getting the amount you need.

If your doctor thinks that you are not getting enough from your diet, then supplementing with a multivitamin might be an option.

Good luck.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.


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