The World Health Organisation suggests that we eat at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day (this is excluding potatoes and other starch tubers). Their studies have shown that approximately 16 million( which is 1% of total human years) years are lost due to disability (potential life years lost from from early death and productive time lost from illness) and 1.7 million deaths (2.8% of total deaths) worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption. Whoa, that's a lot of years and deaths! I am willing to bet the actual numbers are much higher than what is reported, as healthful impacts of fruit and vegetable are still being discovered. Also, the relationship between food and health are difficult to quantify as there are difficulties with conducting a controlled study in humans (How do you make sure they are eating exactly as prescribed to the study? We can't imprison people and force them to eat healthy! Even if we do imprison people and force feed them healthy food, I bet the cortisol secreted from all the induced stress would be enough to cause more harm than good. Science seems to be coming to the conclusion that stress leads to cortisol, which can/may lead to cancer) So the numbers, in my opinion, are very likely to be an understatement of the true facts.
The well known effects of more fruit and vegetables are well known and accepted. It happens to be that fruit and vegetables are the only foods that features in the nutritional guidelines of all major countries. Governments all over the world have campaigns encouraging their citizens to eat more of it. However, that's were the consensus ends. Here in Australia, adults over the age of 19 are recommended two servings of fruit and five serves of veggies. The Brits aim for a total of five, the Danes a six, the Canadians are recommended up to 10. The Japanese suggest a massive 17 portions, 13 coming from vegetables and four from fruits! Why the vastly differing numbers? Well, the various department of health officials have come up with these numbers considering the healthfulness factor and the feasibility factor. They say that big numbers can be off putting for those countries that are well known for not eating enough of fruit and vegetable, therefore asking them to eat a lot of it at the start will not feasible. The five a day has been chose because it is sufficiently unthreatening. So it's less than the ideal, it's really an introductory offer to get us started. The minimum portions are an average of 80 grams ( 400grams divided by 5 serves = 80 grams). While the japanese accept 50 gram portion sizes, it still adds up to a lot more than 400 grams (50 grams x 17 serves= 850 grams per day).
The suggested fruits and vegetable are all equal too, according to the recommendation.For example, a serving of broccoli, which is two spears, is equivalent to to 5 centimetres of cucumber. We don't need a dietician to tell us which one has more nutrients, the broccoli trumps the cucumber. So why are they lumped together as equals? Same reason as before, to make it easier for people to increase their fruit and vegetable intake in anyway possible. So these recommendations are more to do with making it easier for us to adapt to eating more of the goodies. From then on, we can progress into eating five different portions to get the array of nutritional benefits from different source (While it may seem easier to just eat 400 grams of one thing , don't, a variety is much better. Please don't just eat 400 grams of broccoli and call it a day!)
Personally, I know that I don't even reach the minimum. I probably get four servings if I am paying attention to what I am eating. I manage two fruit servings because they are sweet and don't need extra cooking to make it palatable. I may have a serve of vegetables with lunch and one more with dinner. With this, I am not even reaching the minimum. So for that last two weeks I have taken some action to incorporate more vegetables at breakfast, so I can make at least three serves of vegetables a day. It's still two short from the recommended two and five, but I will take it one step at a time.
I have read about green juices and smoothies but I didn't do anything because I didn't have a fancy blender or a juicing machine. We did have an old and slightly broken food processor, so I naturally ignored it thinking "What can this junk do" and left it in the cupboard. If only I tried it a bit earlier, because it makes green smoothies to a very acceptable standard ( I say acceptable because it starts fuming chemical smells after running longer than a minute). The green smoothies are really great because it consist of one serving of fruit, one serving of veggies and some extras if you wish. I have been making one every morning ever since and it's really quick. I can make one in 3 minutes now, after some trial and error (I have timed myself, so you can test me if you want). Also it's raw , so you are not cooking all the nutrients out of your fruit and vegetables. There have been some odd tasting ones (one involved using frozen peas as the vegetable part, don't do that- it's weird) but after 14 smoothies, I have made some really delicious ones. I have been feeling great too, maybe it's a placebo effect but maybe it's because I have eaten at least 14 more servings of vegetables in the last two weeks than I would have before. Try for yourself if you have a blender, the only way to know is to try it yourself.
Here's one I made today & it tastes pretty darn good.
Green Smoothie # 1 ( The Mango Bomb)
The essential parts - 1 cup of mangoes (I used frozen) - 1 cup of roughly chopped celery ( chop them so they fit in the blender) - 1 cup of water/brewed tea/or coconut water if you are fancy The extras - 1 handful of spinach ( I wash these first because I haven't found any organic ones yet) - 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (they're really cool because it turns liquids into gels, and according to the internet they have good fats and minerals) - 1 very small piece of ginger - 1 tablespoon of nut butter
Directions If you have strong blender with lots of power just put everything in and blend for a minute or when it looks like a smoothie instead of a lumpy liquid. I have a very sensitive and fragile blender, so I put all the softer stuff first and blend it. Then I add the harder stuff. This makes 2 cups but don't share it, this is just for you. Plus it's easy to make another one in no time ( 3 minutes, I'll race ya)
I'll be posting more recipes soon, ones that don't require blenders. As long as you a have pot and an oven you'll be sorted for the equipment part of the next recipe.
Lots of celeries and mangoes,