There is strong scientific evidence suggesting that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is negatively associated with risk of developing chronic diseases. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day based on a 2000 kcal diet. However, the average person in the United States consumes 3.6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In order to achieve the goal of at least 9 servings, we should continue educating Americans about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables and recommend consumers to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The key is to increase the amount up to 9 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day in all forms. Fresh, cooked, and processed fruits and vegetables including frozen and canned, 100% fruit juices, 100% vegetable juices, and dried fruits are all considered as servings of fruits and vegetables. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables provide a range of nutrients and different bioactive compounds including phytochemicals (phenolics, flavonoids, and carotenoids), vitamins (vitamin C, folate, and provitamin A), minerals (potassium, calcium, and magnesium), and fibers. More and more evidence suggests that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables are attributed to the additive and synergistic interactions of the phytochemicals present in whole foods by targeting multiple signal transduction pathways. Therefore, consumers should obtain nutrients and bioactive compounds from a wide variety of whole foods for optimal nutrition and health well-being, not from expensive dietary supplements.
© 2013 Institute of Food Technologists®