Let’s begin with a question: what’s a serve? Tennis fans among you may be piping up right now, but let us hasten to add that we don’t refer to the sport, but to a serve of good old fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily intake for women is five serves, apparently, one of which equates to half a cup of leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or spinach. Or if you’re into potatoes (who isn’t, right?), one medium-sized zinger will do just fine.
A recent study of 18000 women was done on three samples: women aged between 31 and 36, 50 and 55, and pregnant women aged between 31 and 36. On average, they found that we’re eating two servings of fruits and vegetables less than the recommended five.
We’re not particularly good when it comes to dairy and grain either. Less than 10% of women aged 31 to 36 get enough grains, and less than a quarter of the group consumed enough dairy products. This is particularly worrisome for the older group of women because that is when calcium levels in bones fall to all-time lows, and without good nourishment, they become brittle and be susceptible to arthritis and micro-fractures.
Professor Gita Mishra, who led the study, says that the main issue is one of education and awareness. Vegetables contain fibre and antioxidants that have been shown to be protective against chronic diseases. They also make us feel nice and full, killing impulses to consume energy-rich foods like chips and soft drinks.
It shouldn’t take much to consume one medium potato with every meal, should it?