More Matters replaces 5-A-Day
The 5-A-Day campaign was launched in 1991 to encourage Americans to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day for better health. This campaign has now been replaced by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) new program – Fruits & Veggies: More Matters.
One important reason for the change is that research now shows that the amount of fruits and veggies recommended per day can vary from person to person, depending on age, gender, and activity level and that “5 a day” is not the correct recommendation for many.
The CDC provides an interactive tool on the choosemyplate.gov website which you can use to calculate the number of servings you need per day. You can also consult the tables below.
How many fruits and vegetables do I need?
The amount of fruits and vegetables you need depends on age, gender, and activity level.
- Less active = you average less than 30 minutes per day of physical activity
- Moderately active = you average between 30 and 60 minutes per day of physical activity
- Active = you average more than 60 minutes per day of physical activity
Why are fruits and vegetables so important?
This year in the United States, more than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and over 500,000 Americans will die of cancer. An estimated 32 percent of these deaths may be related to diet.
Research suggests that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of a variety of cancers. The evidence is strongest for digestive (oral, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectal) and respiratory cancers.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has also been associated with the prevention of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the US – as well as other chronic illnesses.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber and contain many other compounds that are important for good health including micronutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
What counts as a cup?
All fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables count toward your fruit and vegetable goal. Fruits and vegetables (with the exception of olives, avocados, and coconut) are naturally low in fat. Canned, dried, and frozen foods are also good options. Look for fruit without added sugar or syrups and vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces.
Do supplements or multi-vitamins count?
Your fruit and vegetable recommendations do not change if you are taking a multivitamin. This is because in addition to vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring substances that may help protect against chronic health conditions. Thus, you should focus on meeting your nutrient needs primarily through foods.
Ideas for eating more fruits and vegetables
Eating more fruits and veggies is easy with a few creative ideas. For example:
- Around the house. Keep fruits and vegetables visible and easily accessible, and you’ll find you eat them more often. For example, keep a big bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or table, or containers of washed, chopped vegetables in the fridge for snacks.
- Breakfast. Add your favorite fruit to cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt (not just bananas, but also try apples, grapes, berries, peaches, or mandarin oranges). Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit drinks.
- Lunch. Pack a pita wrap full of chopped veggies. Have a salad or vegetable soup. Fill a baggie with cut fruits and veggies to munch on.
- Snacks. Fill ice cube trays with 100% juice, put at toothpick in each cube, and enjoy the mini-popsicles in no time. Snack on baby-carrots or dried fruit at work instead of candy.
- Dinner. Have two vegetables and a salad as part of your meal. Supplement any take-out dinners with fruits and vegetables from home.
- Dessert. Try some fresh fruit for dessert. Treat yourself to your favorite – strawberries, mango, pineapple, melon, etc.
- Drinks. Drink 100% juice  instead of soda for a snack.
- Fast food. Fruit is the original fast food! If you’re hungry and in a hurry, grab a banana or an apple, or any other easy-to-eat fruit.
More Matters for kids
Encourage your family to be more involved with what they eat by having them help make the grocery list and assist with preparing dinner. That way, everyone can select his or her favorite fruits and vegetables. By involving your kids, they’ll be more likely to eat healthy foods, and they’ll learn the basics of eating right.
Try these fun tips for helping kids eat more fruits and veggies:
- Dress it up. Top a bowl of cereal with a smiling face made from sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
- Get artistic. Make a picture using broccoli florets for trees, carrots and celery for flowers, cauliflower for clouds, and a yellow squash for a sun. When you’re done, you can eat your masterpiece!
- Mix it up. Make fruit kabobs for kids using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes and berries.
- Get competitive. Start a little healthy competition in your family by tracking everyone’s fruit and vegetable consumption as well as physical activity levels for a week. Total up at the end of the week and see who ate the most fruits and vegetables and did the most exercise.
- Go shopping with your children. Take them to the grocery store or farmers’ market to let them see all the different shapes and colors that fruits and vegetables come in. Let them pick out a new fruit and vegetable to try.