The George Mateljan Foundation is a non-profit organization with no commercial influence, which provides this website for you free of charge. We are dedicated to making the world a healthier place by providing you with cutting-edge information about why the World's Healthiest Foods are the key to vibrant health and energy and how you can easily make them a part of your healthy lifestyle.

eating healthycooking healthyfeeling great

Getting Practical with Fruits and Vegetables

No diet recommendations are more common than the recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables. But do these recommendations really help us eat better? Researchers at the Department of Health in Western Australia followed the fruit and vegetable practices of almost 3,000 adults living in the Perth, Australia area for 10 years, paying special attention to their knowledge of dietary guidelines in Australia for fruit and vegetable consumption. When the study started in 1995, only about 25% of the study participants could identify the minimum daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables. (In Australia, the "Go for 2&5" campaign was encouraging 2 fruit servings and 5 vegetable servings as a minimum daily amount. Similarly, in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid was encouraging 2-4 fruit servings and 3-5 vegetable servings per day). By 2004, however, participants in the study were twice as likely to know the correct fruit recommendations, and four times as likely to know the correct vegetable recommendations! In other words, knowledge about the exact amount of fruits and vegetables needed to improve health greatly increased over this 10-year time period. At the exact same time, however, actual consumption of fruits and vegetables, on average, had actually decreased over this same 10-year period. In 2004, only 35% of all participants were actually consuming at least 5 vegetable servings per day, and only 59% were consuming at least 2 fruit servings.

The perceived high cost of fruits and vegetables, and the participants' assumption that fruits and vegetables (especially vegetables) would require too much time to prepare were the two main reasons given for failure to meet fruit and vegetable goals. "Time scarcity" was a phrase used by the researchers to describe this roadblock for vegetable consumption in the minds of the participants. It's striking to see this four-fold increase in knowledge of vegetable goals coming hand-in-hand with less vegetable consumption due to a perceived lack of time. These study findings make it clear that knowledge and information, by themselves, aren't enough when it comes to improving fruit and vegetable intake. What's also needed are the practical "how-tos"—practical tips that people can use to discover that "time scarcity" doesn't need to get in the way of a healthy diet.

All of us actually do have time for 5 vegetable servings per day! But we need to get practical about accomplishing this goal. On our website, you can click on our In-Home Cooking Demo section to find slide shows that will give you dozens of quick and easy techniques for preparing fruits and vegetables. Even without any cooking experience whatsoever, you can meet your fruit and vegetable goals and still have plenty of time in your day for all of your other life activities. In our FAQ section, you can also find a link to our discussion, "How to Use the World's Healthiest Foods to Fit Your Lifestyle." In this section, we include practical tips for eating well without driving up your food costs. We're confident that everyone can enjoy the amazing health benefits of fruits and vegetables without wrecking their budget or daily schedule!

Practical Tip

Don't let preconceived ideas about cost or difficulty of preparation get in the way of your desire to eat better, and especially with respect to fruits and vegetables. Knowing the guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake is important, but not nearly as important as feeling confident about your ability to make the food changes you desire. Use our website to watch slide shows on fruit and vegetable preparation, or get our cookbook, The World's Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide to the Healthiest Way of Eating, to see how fruits and vegetables don't need to wreck your food budget or your daily schedule.