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With Fruits and Veggies, More Matters

Forget '5 a Day' -- eating more is better. Here are 18 ways to get more produce power into your diet.

The New Slogan

A year of consumer testing and research went into development of the "More is Better" slogan, says Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation.

The research found that only 50% of consumers were aware of the "5 a day" message, and even within that group, only 1 in 5 was meeting the recommendation, says Pivonka. So the foundation knew a motivating message was needed.

"We wanted to be sure that the message was encouraging, and communicated that eating more is better for you, with an emphasis on making improvements to your diet even if you don't meet the specific recommendation," she says.

It's also a message that dovetails with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines and the individualized "My Pyramid" that replaced the old Food Guide Pyramid. To help consumers better understand the recommendations, advice for produce intake is now given in cups instead of servings, and is tailored to age, gender, and activity level.

"The new pyramid recommends fruits and vegetables in cups instead of servings because it is easier to figure out how much you need," says Ward.

For example, according to MyPyramid.gov, a 25-year-old woman who gets 30 to 60 minutes of activity each day needs 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. One cup of fruit is equivalent to 1 cup of cut-up fruit; one small apple, a medium pear, or a large peach; 1/2 cup dried fruit; or 8 ounces of 100% fruit juice. One cup of vegetables equals 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of leafy greens.

The Power of Produce

There's plenty of scientific evidence to document the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are brimming with disease-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Not only that, but they're naturally low in sodium and calories, cholesterol-free and virtually fat-free.

"A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is your best defense against obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic diseases," says Ward.

It's important to eat a rainbow of colored fruits and vegetables every day, Ward says. The pigments in fruit and veggies act as antioxidants -- helping to rid your body of "free radicals," that can damage cells.

And with two-thirds of American adults overweight, the weight-control benefits of fruits and veggies are especially important. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of fiber and water to help you feel full, and thus prevent overeating. Substituting fruits and vegetables for "empty calorie" foods that offer little nutritional value can really make a difference in your weight, says Pivonka.

Beyond that, she says, fruits and vegetables can simply help you feel better.

"In our consumer research, we found that people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables had more energy and felt better," says Pivonka.

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Reviewed on March 16, 2007

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