As I threw some blueberries into my granola this morning and while I packed my lunch with raisins, an orange, salad (cabbage, carrots and spinach), asparagus (side dish with my pork and couscous lunch) I hit me: I'm eating way more fruits and vegetables than I did a year ago. Sometimes, we make changes, they become routine and we forget how it used to be. We don't realize how far we've come until we stop, turn around, and realize that the mailbox is way the hell back there. But am I eating enough? Just how many should I eat each day?
More than I thought. For me, it's actually 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day. That's about 9 servings!
|I think the goal is to be surrounded by them, like this woman.
I've fell victim to not eating enough good stuff in the past. A few years ago I never ate broccoli raw and now (since I started pairing it with hummus) I buy a bag every single time I shop. I still have the occasional day when I'm overdue for a grocery shop and the only spinach I have left is wilted or my bananas are brown, or I'm on vacation and eat out. But in general, I'm eating more than I ever have, and will now be striving for my goal of 4 1/2 cups. But why?
|My pre-lunch salad
Getting our required serving of fruits and vegetables helps maintian balanced blood sugar levels, reduces our risk of cancer, chronic diseases and stroke. It helps with lower blood pressure and reduces our risk of heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. There's even a link between depression and too many processed foods, according to this article in BBC news.
So, exactly how do fruits and vegetables reduce cancer and all of that other good stuff? Because they are nutrient dense! And, they have phytochemicals!!! These little guys (also found in whole grains) are responsible for improving health on the cellular level and strengthening our immune system. Antioxidants are a type of phytochemical that fight free radicals that we are all exposed to every day. Check out more on the little guys here and here.
Our bodies are just not designed to proccess all the refined sugar and chemicals in pre-packaged/processed/refined food. And if we eat a diet consisting mostly of that, we will pay the price. Does this mean my diet is perfect? No! I eat dessert more than I should, still use too much salt, and still drink more caffine than I should. But I'm getting my fruit and veg. dammit.