Make your next meal reflect the latest science

Harvard study shows eating more fruits and vegetables daily linked with 30 percent reduction in stroke risk. Americans are still not eating the recommended minimum of five servings a day.

provided by National Cancer Institute


ew research shows that eating six daily servings of fruits and veg- etables is associated with the greatest reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke among men and women, according to an article published by Harvard researchers in the October 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. At the same time, the latest data show that Americans eat an average of 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day short of the minimum recommendation of five or more daily servings recommended by the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) 5 A Day for Better Health program. Most Americans should be eating more than 5 servings for maximum benefit.

Even with the ever-growing body of research showing the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, many people can find it challenging to translate the science and turn it into part of their everyday meals. That's why scientific data supporting the benefits of fruits and vegetables, combined with practical information on how to make it relevant, are critical to improve eating habits -- starting with dinner tonight.

To get started, do you know what you should about fruits and vegetables? Take this short quiz:

  • How does a cruciferous vegetable differ from a leafy green, and why does it matter?
  • How many fruits and vegetables should we eat each day?
  • Do French fries and cherry pie count?

To answer these questions, NCI has supplied Americans with, an interactive web site that enables visitors to track how many fruit and vegetable servings they have eaten per day, and that features easy information to help people to eat more, including:


Facts about why fruits and vegetables are so healthful

  For example, did you know that the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables are non-nutritive substances that may have a variety of biological effects in the body -- some acting as antioxidants, or cancer-fighters, some helping the immune system, and others altering enzymes that help drugs work better in our system?


Description of exactly what a serving size is of fruits and vegetables


A serving is smaller than many people think. And, did you know that all varieties of fruits and vegetables count toward 5 A Day -- fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and juice? Beans count, too. One serving can be:

  • A medium piece of fruit;
  • A cup of cooked, canned, or cutup vegetables or fruit; a cup of chopped lettuce and other raw leafy vegetables;
  • A cup (6 ounces) of 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice;
  • A cup of canned beans and peas; or
  • A cup of dried fruit.


Easy, healthful tips to help add more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks


For example:

  • Buy low-fat yogurt, 100% fruit juice, and fresh, canned, or frozen fruit to blend a quick fruit smoothie in the morning. Drink it at home, or pour it into an insulated cup to keep it cold, and take it with you.
  • Buy pre-cut vegetables (packaged or from the salad bar) for brown bag lunches and try dipping them in low- or non-fat salad dressing.
  • Buy dried fruit to snack on for a quick, tasty, and healthy boost in the car, instead of stopping for less healthy impulse buys. Try dried cranberries or mango for variety.
  • At a restaurant, try vegetable pizza, vegetable pasta (watch out for cream sauces), or a fresh veggie "wrap," and order a plain baked potato, vegetable soup, or a small salad instead of French fries.


A low-fat, high-flavor database of recipes from internationally recognized, healthy cook Graham Kerr

Examples include:

  • "Citrus Vegetables," a recipe showing how adding citrus adds great flavor without fat.
  • "Quick-Steamed Greens," which shows how quick steaming helps retain flavor, color and nutrients.
  • "Red Cabbage & Plum Salad," pairing the cruciferous cabbage with fresh or canned plums for a twist.

For information on nutrition and cancer, consumers can call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER, or visit

Contacts: NCI Press Office (301) 496-6641; Evelyn Schulman, NCI Office of Cancer Communications, (301) 496-6667