Just how affordable is eating the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by health authorities such as DHHS, USDA, the American Cancer Society, physicians and nurses? In some states like Tennessee, the WIC program which provides supplemental foods to low-income women, infants, and children at nutritional risk (4), has included fruits and vegetables cash vouchers to ensure women/children eat fruits and vegetables. This is good (but leaves out men!). The Food Stamp program should also use fruits and vegies vouchers to recipients.
According to a February 2011 study report, USDA Economic Research Service, researchers found that, in 2008, an adult on a 2,000- calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (amounts and variety) at an average price of $2 to $2.50 per day, or approximately 50 cents per edible cup equivalent(5).
A new research report on WebMD actually recommends 8 servings(6)! We’re all urged to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but new research finds eight servings may be needed to cut the risk of dying from heart disease.The research on the diet and lifestyles of more than 300,000 people across eight countries in Europe found that people who ate at least eight portions of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate three portions a day. Each additional portion in fruits and vegetables was linked to a 4% lower risk of death.
Exactly how much is a serving? The ACS has the following explanations to help.
- ½ cup of fruit
- 1 medium piece of fruit
- ¼ cup of dried fruit
- ½ cup (4 ounces) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- 1 cup of leafy vegetables
- ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables
- 1 medium apple or orange = the size of a tennis ball
- 1 cup vegetables or fruit = the size of a baseball
- 1 medium potato = the size of a computer mouse
- 1 cup of lettuce = 4 leaves
The CDC also has a tool for calculating the amount of fruits and vegetables a person needs using age, sex and activity level (http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/form.html)