Fruits and veggies … it’s not just five a day anymore!

Eugen WaisWe all work pretty hard to fit five servings of fruits and vegetables into our diets every day. Sometimes it feels like it’s quite a challenge. It appears as though it may become even more challenging soon. New research from the University College London suggests that we need at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day for optimal health. Holy zucchini! That’s a lot of produce.

In the study, published in March, people who ate at least seven portions of produce a day had a 42 percent lower risk of death from all causes. Specifically, they had a 31 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and stroke and a 25 percent lower risk of death from cancer. The study authors called the results “staggering.”

FoodFacts.com wants to offer some ideas that can make the concept of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake by another two servings every day.

Let’s talk about breakfast
Fruit and breakfast are definitely great partners! If you enjoy oatmeal in the morning, you’ll find it even more enjoyable when you mix in a cup of fresh berries. You’ll add flavor and texture as well as variety. If you’re having yogurt as part of your morning meal, don’t buy the fruit flavored varieties. Instead stir in a cup of chopped peaches, apples, plums or melon. This is much tastier than the pre-mixed options. You can try peanut butter on toast topped with sliced apples. Breakfast is an easy opportunity to really enjoy your first serving of the seven for the day.

Expand your plate at lunch
We know that we can happily add lettuce and tomato to a sandwich. Those additions add texture and flavor and help keep us fuller, longer. If we’ve decided on a salad, we’ve got between one and three servings of vegetables on our lunch plate. Whatever our lunch choice, let’s put it on a plate and add some fruit salad we’ve prepared at home. We’ve got lots of great seasonal choices this time of year. Fruit salad is easy to store and travels well in small containers if need be. This isn’t just a great way to add another serving of the seven to our day, it’s another way to help you feel satisfied.

Veggies make great mix-ins
We’ve all probably done this at some point for children, but it really works to increase your vegetable consumption as well. If you’re making a meatloaf, add shredded zucchini for added flavor and texture and it helps make a more moist meatloaf. Burgers on the menu? Try chopped onions and mushrooms in the mix. Try chopped spinach in meatballs or sauteed spinach in your morning eggs. Don’t forget about pasta sauce as well — peas, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, spinach — any combination of veggies make pasta sauce a much richer experience.

Swap out your snacks
If you need a little something to hold you over in the afternoon before dinner, fruit is a great sweet snack. Fruit can satisfy your hunger, without killing your calorie consumption.

Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake can be easier than you might think. A little creativity and out of the box thinking can go a long way. With the benefits described in this new study, it’s certainly worth it!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/knowmore-tv/fruits-veggies-_b_5234536.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living