Give Me 5!

5Give Me 5!
Next time you sit down for a meal, take a look at the composition of your plate.  Did you know that 1/2 of your plate should be made-up of fruits and vegetables?  This strategy can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight because fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and contain fiber which will help you feel full longer. In addition, eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day helps reduce risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

If you’re not consuming this recommendation, you’re not alone!  A study, by “Scientific American”, found just 11% of Americans consume 5 fruits and vegetables daily.  Are you ready to take the challenge to give yourself 5 a day?  Try incorporating the following tips:

  • Add a serving of fruit or vegetables to every meal or snack.
  • Try a banana, berries or dried fruit on your cereal or yogurt.
  • Add spinach, tomatoes or cucumbers to your sandwich.
  • Order vegetable soup or eat baby carrots instead of chips with your sandwich.
  • Eat more salads rich with leafy greens and vegetables.
  • Add zucchini and peppers to your tomato sauce.
  • Mix broccoli or peas into your rice or pasta dishes.
  • For snacks, enjoy apples, pears, citrus or raw vegetables with low fat dip.
  • Make fruit and vegetables easy to access and convenient to grab.
  • Make it a personal or family goal to try a new vegetable or fruit every week.

Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University measured various fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capacity.  Antioxidants are special compounds that protect against oxidation, or cellular damage caused by free radicals.  A diet high in antioxidants can help protect against many chronic diseases. Familiar antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene. According to the Tufts study, here are the top performers in each category:

Fruits:  1. prunes.  2.  raisins.  3. blueberries.  4. blackberries.  5. strawberries.  6. raspberries.  7. plums.   8. oranges.  9. red grapes.  10. cherries.

Vegetables:  1. kale.  2. spinach.  3. brussels sprouts.  4. alfalfa sprouts.  5. broccoli flowers.  6  beets.  7. red bell peppers.  8. onions.  9. corn.  10. eggplant.

(Note, all plant products contain antioxidants and although the ones listed above are especially loaded, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is ideal).

Remember to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables and begin your “Give Me 5 Fruits & Vegetables” challenge today!  To track your progress, go

“5”, or the recommendation to get 5 fruits and vegetables daily, is part of the 9521BFF, Let’s Go!” campaign recommended by physicians, dietitians, nurses, health educators, fitness experts and other healthcare practitioners in partnership with the Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition of Collier County.  Each week, a different number will be highlighted as the Coalition reaches out to educate the community about this important public health message.  For more information, go to

 Special thanks to the Collier County Health Department  for taking the lead on promulgating the 95210 message and to  Team Wellness Challenge, L3C, a partner of Whole Child Leon and Working Well located in Tallahassee, Florida, for allowing us to use their wonderful 95210 tracking system.

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