Although there were some modest gains in fruit and vegetable consumption between 1990 and 1994, the improvement slowed to a less than 1% gain over the next two years. Researchers think that we can do better.
"I still have hope," says Li. "I see we can make a difference. We did see changes, so it implies that we can make people's lives different. We just need to continue our efforts."
As Ornish puts it, "A healthy diet is not about living longer, it's about living better ... about quality of life ... joy in life. It used to be thought that most sexual function was in your head, that it was psychological. Now we know it's mostly in your arteries. That's how Viagra works. ... When you change your diet, when you manage stress more effectively, when you quit smoking, it's not just your heart gets more blood flow."
Here are some tips for getting "5 a day" from Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at Georgia State University and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
- Start with breakfast. "Get a breakfast cereal that already contains fruit -- raisin bran or one with dried fruits -- then add a banana and a glass of orange juice," she tells WebMD. "That's a quick, fast breakfast that adds two or three servings of fruit a day.
- Think of fruit as snacks. Carry an apple to work or keep a box of raisins in your desk drawer. Make those choices instead of the bag or pretzels or the candy bar in the afternoon.
- Have a very veggie lunch. "One thing people could do is choose the vegetable plate at lunch," Rosenbloom says. "Get three different vegetables -- just keep in mind that macaroni and cheese is not a vegetable, even though it always seems to be a choice in those places."
- Take advantage of quick fruit and veggie fixes. Grocery stores are trying to help you out. "Some of the better ones have salad-and-fruit bars that are great for take-out for your evening meal. And you can get pre-packaged salads, cut-up vegetables, baby carrots ... little salad tomatoes. Cut up an apple when you get home from work, for kids to snack on instead of chips. It just takes a little bit of thought and planning," she adds.