It's widely known that the usual recommendation for fruits and vegetables is 5 portions a day. We also know that fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other wonderful nutrients. However, do you know how big those portions are? What vegetables don't count? Well, I didn't, so research was mandatory. I can't actually increase my vegetable intake without knowing my portions, right?
|Image by Bruce Guenter|
Thanks to this wonderful Internet era, I was able to quickly find government recommendations for the US and UK, through their programs “Fruit & Veggies - More Matter” and “5 a Day”, respectively. I learned a lot! I was surprised to learn that beans count as one portion, no matter how much you eat. Additionally, I learned that 100% natural juices count as one portion but smoothies may count as more than one, depending on how they're made.
|Image by kimubert|
Sadly, I noticed inconsistencies in the recommendations of these two government entities. In the UK potatoes don't count as veggies (they count as starchy products like bread or rice), but they do count in the US. Regarding portion sizes, it seems a bit complicated. While 7 strawberries counted as a cup in the UK, the US considered a cup to be 8 large strawberries. This also happened with plums: 2 plums in the UK and 2 large or 3 medium plums in the US. Should I be worried about these differences in size?
|Image by ViZZZual.com|
Finally, I played around a bit with their interactive sections. In the “5 a Day” website, I took the “healthy eating self-assessment” and I got the expected results: I must include more fruits ans vegetables in my diet. In the “More Matters” website, I played with the “Analyze My Plate” tool. It seemed a bit rigid, with little variety regarding the available food, but it showed the approximate calorie count of every meal. According to this tool, I need to eat more fruits and veggies. Hmmm, there seems to be a trend here.
The conclusion of my research is quite simple: I'm nowhere near the recommended amount of greens and I have to get serious about it. I'll eat more veggies! Wish me luck and join me in this task.