Eat 2 cups veggies, 2 cups fruits daily

Do you want to feel healthy and energetic? Do you want to make sure you are taking enough vitamins and nutrients every day?
There is one simple solution: Eat two cups of assorted vegetables and two cups of assorted fruits every day. This simple lifestyle change will offer you many health benefits:
1. You will complete your vitamin needs. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, Vitamin A, B, C, folate and potassium. Dietary fiber lowers cholesterol and heart disease.
Vitamin A is good for the eyes and skin, while vitamin C makes wounds heal faster. Potassium is essential for the heart and exercising individuals, and folate is a must for pregnant women and the unborn child.
2. You lower your risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that eating fruits and vegetables can lower cancer risk by three to 10 percent. You also lower your type II diabetes risk by 14 percent if you increase your intake of green leafy vegetables. If you want to reduce your cancer risk further, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
3. Your bowel movement will improve. The fiber in these foods will act like a broomstick and clean the insides of the intestines. Reduce your intake of meat and fats, which are low in fiber.
4. You can maintain your weight. Vegetables and most fruits are low in calories and won’t make you fat.
5. These food will help you fight stress. Vegetables are rich in the B vitamins, which are needed by the nervous system and reduce stress. Bananas contain tryptophan and can also combat stress. Many people feel better and “cleaner” when they eat fruits and vegetables.
6. You can beat the heat. During hot weather, choose to eat fruits with a high water content such as melon, watermelon and coconut juice.
7. You will stay younger. According to a recent study made in England, there are four bad habits that will make us age 12 years faster. These are smoking, too much alcohol, lack of exercise, and a diet low in vegetables and fruits.
How much do you need?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the average person should consume two cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits a day.
What are the specific recommended amounts for each person?
For active women below 50 years of age, two cups veggies and two cups fruits are recommended. For less active women above 50 years old, one and a half cup of vegetables and one and a half cup of fruits are required. Incidentally, this is also the recommended amount for boys and girls.
For active males, they can consume three cups of veggies and two and a half cups of fruits a day. For less active males, two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits are needed per day. However, these are just suggested amounts and there is no harm in eating more as long as you don’t gain weight.
How do you measure a cup?
Here are examples of one cup of fruit: one big apple, one large orange, eight large strawberries, one medium-sized mango, and two small bananas. Therefore, if you need to eat two cups of fruits a day, it could be in any combination such as 1) one apple and two bananas, or 2) eight strawberries and one mango. Choose a mixed combination to obtain various vitamins and nutrients the body needs.
A cup of vegetables is easier to determine. A small platter of vegetables sold in canteens would roughly fill a cup. For vegetables with flat or irregular shapes, a bowl of lettuce or eight broccoli florets (flowers) is approximately a cup.
Tips to increase your vegetable and fruit intake
• Eat fruits as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. Bring one or two fruits to work.
• During meals, try to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Replace some of your rice intake with vegetables.
• Go for vegetarian dishes from time to time.
• For pizza orders, put more vegetables and lessen the meat.
• Add tomatoes, pepper and onions to your eggs.
• Pack your sandwiches with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and catsup, too. Take it easy on the mayonnaise.
• Put a lot of vegetables in your soup and dishes.
The healthiest fruits and vegetables
My personal list of healthiest local vegetables includes broccoli, cauliflower, malunggay, kangkong, pechay (bokchoy), ampalaya (bitter melon), spinach, eggplant, okra and camote tops.
The healthiest fruits are banana, apple, orange, dalandan, papaya, strawberry, grapes, watermelon, melon, coconut, avocado and pineapple.
Final advice: You don’t really have to nitpick. Just eat more fruits and vegetables than usual. I guarantee that it will make you feel a lot better.