See Also Eat from The Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the New Four Food Groups. A healthy vegan or vegetarian diet relies on fruits and vegetables to provide much of the fibre, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed every day.
It’s important to eat plenty of fruits (at least 3 servings) and vegetables (at least 4 servings) every day. Fresh, raw produce is usually the best choice, but there are benefits to cooked, canned, and frozen, too. When you can afford to do so, buy organic produce, as it has the best flavour and the most nutrients; if you’re on a tight budget, purchase organic produce if the conventional alternative is typically high in pesticides—like peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.
Note: these serving suggestions are as recommended by “The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”, and might differ slightly from the DBM Food Pyramid. Bear in mind that the DBM Food Pyramid is targeted at “patients” and the PCRM servings are targeted at healthy people.
Fruits are rich in fibre, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Be sure to include at least one serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries are all good choices. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very much fibre.
Standard Suggested Servings
FRUIT: Total per day: 2.5 – 3 servings
Serving size: 1 medium piece of fruit • ½ cup cooked fruit • 4 ounces / 120ml juice
- Fruits– Three (3) or more servings a day.
Be sure to include at least one (1) serving each day of fruits that are high in vitamin C—citrus fruits, melons, and strawberries are all good choices. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices, which do not contain very much fibre.
There are of course exceptions to the rule! DBM makes use frequently of juices to increase nutrient intake especially in those with compromised guts.
Vegetables are packed with nutrients; they provide vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fibre, and other nutrints. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory, or bok choy are especially good sources of these important nutrients. Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin provide extra beta-carotene. Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables in your diet.
Standard Suggested Servings
VEGETABLES: Total per day: 4 servings (2 to 4 cups)
Serving size: 1 cup raw vegetables • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
- Vegetables– Four (4) or more servings a day.
Vegetables are packed with nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory, or cabbage, are especially good sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fibre, and other nutrients. Dark yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin provide extra beta-carotene. Include generous portions of a variety of vegetables in your diet.
Dark green vegetables” include broccoli, kale, spinach, collards, turnip, mustard and beet greens, bok choy, and Swiss chard.
“Other vegetables” refers to all other vegetables, fresh or frozen, raw or cooked.
LEGUMES / BEANS
Legumes (beans, pulses, peas)
Legumes, also called pulses, is another name for beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are plants with seed pods that split into two halves. Edible seeds from plants in the legume family including black beans, black eyed peas, broad beans, chickpeas, green beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, peas, pinto beans, red kidney beans, vetch, winged beans
Legumes reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers LDL cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, lowers the risks of colon cancer, prevents anaemia, maintains the proper levels of iron and calcium in the body. Legumes are low in fat & cholesterol levels. To balance the diet when meat and dairy products are reduce for cholesterol problems, all legumes are a healthy alternative providing the daily amounts of protein needed.
Legumes are good sources of phytonutrients, protein, fibre, starch, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. They are also good sources of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.
NOTE: Because all these legumes and pulses (as well as nuts, seeds and whole grains) contain high levels of phytic acid, which inhibits absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, nickel and especially zinc, it is important to soak, ferment or sprout them. This reduces the phytic acid levels and is especially important for those suffering with anaemia, cancer, digestive, teeth or bone disorders, pregnant and menstruating women, those regularly performing intense physical activities and sports, anyone on medications, those that drink alcohol regularly, growing infants and children and the elderly.
Standard Suggested Servings
LEGUMES: Total per day: 2 – 2.5 servings
Serving size: 1 cup cooked fruit
The Healthiest Grains to Include in Your Diet
Grains — most commonly wheat and corn — are consumed by most populations around the world. While some people argue that we shouldn’t eat grains, most health experts agree that grains should be a part of our everyday diet. But choosing whole grains, rather than refined ones, is the most nutritious choice.
Standard Suggested Servings
WHOLE GRAINS: Total per day: 3 servings
Serving size: ½ cup cooked grains
HOW TO “EAT FROM THE RAINBOW”
Produce that comes in vivid hues contain an arsenal of disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients. To get enough of these vital nutrients, just add a single serving (a piece of fruit, a glass of juice, 1 or 2 cups of vegetables) from each of the seven colour families to your whole grains, vegan protein and healthy fats.
Dr. David Heber recommends a diet with fruits and vegetables across the spectrum of colours. Heber groups produce into seven colours categories:
Heber, author of “What Colours is Your Diet?” and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, says Americans do not receive enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. He believes a category system he created would make it easier to consume the proper amount and types of vitamins needed in diets.
Nearly all fruits and vegetables are low-fat and contain fibre and natural chemicals known as phytonutrients that can help protect against heart disease, cancer and age-related cognitive decline, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Government health experts say that people should get a minimum five servings a day of fresh produce. Currently it’s estimated about a third of the population fulfils that requirement, and it may be as high as 80% that do not get enough servings. As many as 50 percent of Americans don’t eat a piece of fruit all day long. Nine servings are optimal for health maintenance.
“What Colours Is Your Diet?” provides a colours guide to fruits and vegetables and their benefits, as well as recipes to encourage an increased intake of produce. Heber says that counting servings may not be adequate if you are missing out on one or more major colours categories. Not all members of the fruit and vegetable group are alike.
They have unique properties that provide combinations of substances with unique effects on human biology. Therefore, simply eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will not guarantee that you are eating enough of the different substances needed to stimulate the metabolic pathways of genes in the different organs where fruits and vegetables have their beneficial effects.
The colours represent 25,000 chemicals that are beneficial. There is evidence that interaction between the colours provides benefits, so it’s important to have a diverse diet and eat different foods. We normally eat three colours groups on average in this country. Heber believes in evolutionary terms, man started out on a plant-based diet.
Fruits and vegetables are historically and biologically important. Our ancestors the hunter-gatherers ate over 800 varieties. The different colours represent families of compounds, and we have even selectively bred the colours we eat into an even narrower range. There are red carrots in India, we eat orange ones. There are 150 varieties of sweet peas, but only a few are available to us. We need to make an extra effort to eat many different foods to get the full range of benefits, he says.