Produce has certainly earned its healthful reputation. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, while being low in calories and fat. All of these factors contribute to many health benefits, such as:
How much fruits and vegetables you need is based on your age, sex, and activity level. In general, adults should aim for these amounts every day:
Try to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Visit the ChooseMyPlate website for more information.
Focus on color when eating fruits and vegetables. Dark green, red, and orange vegetables are especially packed with good-for-you nutrients. Also, within your daily servings, try fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A or beta-carotene and vitamin C . Produce rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A in the body) includes:
Produce rich in vitamin C includes:
For lunch and snacks:
While it may be tempting to just pop a supplement instead of eating more produce, this is not the best way to go. The majority of the research has shown positive health effects from foods rich nutrients, not from isolated nutrients. Experts think it may be the package of nutrients in fruits and vegetables that delivers the biggest health benefits. Additionally there are hundreds of phytochemicals in each bite of fruits and vegetables that are not available in pill form.
ChooseMyPlate.gov—US Department of Agriculture
EatRight.org—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
Health Canada Food and Nutrition
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Food groups: fruits. United States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruits.html. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Food groups: vegetables. United States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html. Accessed April 23, 2014.
How many vegetables are needed daily or weekly? United States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-amount.html. Accessed April 23, 2014.
How much fruit is needed daily? United States Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruits-amount.html. Accessed April 23, 2014.
Jiang R, Jacobs DR Jr, Mayer-Davis E, et al. Nut and seed consumption and inflammatory markers in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Am J Epidemiol. 2006;163(3):222-231.
Kuriyama S, Shimazu T, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study. JAMA. 2006;296(10):1255-1265.
Vlachopoulos C, Aznaouridis K, Alexopoulos N, Economou E, Andreadou I, Stefanadis C. Effect of dark chocolate on arterial function in healthy individuals. Am J Hypertens. 2005;18(6):785-791.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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