5 A Day the Easy Way

The 5 A Day for Better Health Program is a national initiative to increase Americans' consumption of fruits and vegetables to 5 to 9 servings a day. Eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day will promote good health and reduce the risk of many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases.

Founded in 1991 as a partnership between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation, 5 A Day is the nation's largest public/private partnership for nutrition. The program includes federal, state, and local government agencies, industry, and volunteer organizations. (From 5 A Day)

Only 20% of Americans currently eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Here are some ideas for incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet.

Five Ways to Get Five a Day

1. Swallow it Whole. Most people who get their five a day eat whole fruits and veggies. Eat an orange or a banana for breakfast. Bite into a tomato or a bell pepper.

2. Got Juice? Drink unsweetened juice or low-sodium vegetable juice. Check out the juice offerings in your grocery store’s produce aisle. That’s where they put the really good stuff fresh-squeezed and prepackaged juices that contain 2 or 3 fruit servings per 8 ounce bottle.

3. Add it in. Add fruits and veggies to everything you eat. Sprinkle some fresh strawberries or dried cranberries into your breakfast cereal. A little cucumber and dill would make that plain yogurt better.

4. Use Your Freezer. Purchase frozen bags of fruits and veggies. The bags make it easier to use only as much as you need and keep the rest for later. Is the spinach you bought for salad beginning to wilt? Bag it, freeze it, and use it in omelets, soups, rice dishes, and more.

5. Buy it Precut. Take advantage of the pre-cut, pre-washed, ready-to-serve fruits and veggies in the produce aisle of your grocery store. These products speed up meal preparation and make healthy snacks more convenient.

Mixed fruit - great at breakfast or as an afternoon energy boost. Add a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt for a more substantial snack.

Salad greens pre-washed greens make it easy to start any meal with a salad. Throw in some pre-cut bell peppers or cucumbers and a few cherry tomatoes... and voila!

Broccoli and cauliflower - lightly steam, then toss in Italian salad dressing or serve over brown rice.

Carrots and celery chop, lightly saute, and add to vegetable broth for an easy homemade soup.