Eat more fruits and vegetables to live healthier — and longer

by Kaiser Permanente |
Variety of fruits and vegetables

Eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for serious health conditions, and even help you live longer.* Adults should eat 5 servings a day — that’s 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables. But many Americans don’t eat enough of these healthy foods. Here are some tips for getting more produce onto your plate.

Which fruits and vegetables are best?

Almost all fruits and vegetables have health benefits. Some especially good choices include:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit
  • Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries

Keep in mind that some fruits and vegetables have fewer health benefits than others. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn aren’t associated with a lower risk of death or chronic conditions the way other vegetables are. And fruit juice doesn’t provide the same advantages as most whole fruits. This is because juicing removes healthy fiber found in fruits — and some fruit juices also have a high sugar content.

Try these simple tips for getting 5 servings a day

Brighten up breakfast with fruit

Whether you add bananas to oatmeal or enjoy sliced oranges with eggs, start the day with a serving of fruit. Another option? Avocado toast. Slice avocado onto whole wheat toast for a healthy — and filling — breakfast. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, or a small sprinkling of sea salt for extra flavor.

Get your greens

Add a salad — either for your main meal or as a side — to your daily routine. You can dress it up with an array of colorful veggies and fruits, such as red peppers, roasted sweet potatoes, or sliced apples.

Sneak veggies into favorites

There’s no shame in sneaking veggies into your favorite recipes — especially if it helps your kids eat them. So layer zucchini in lasagna, put leeks in chicken noodle soup, or add finely chopped veggies to scrambled eggs. Just including veggies or fruits on a favorite dish — like mushrooms or pineapples on pizza — will up your intake.

Snack smart

Munch on veggies like carrots, red peppers, and celery with hummus dip as an afternoon snack. Or freeze grapes for a cool and refreshing treat. Need a pick-me-up after a long meeting? Avoid chips and chocolate and try Greek yogurt with blueberries — a brain-boosting superfood.

Keeping fruits and veggies on hand makes it easy to include them in every meal. And remember that frozen produce can be just as nutritious as fresh — so keep some stashed in your freezer to enjoy between trips to the grocery store. Just a few of these simple changes can help make 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day an easy health goal to reach.

* Dong D. Wang, MD, et al., "Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mortality," Circulation, April 27, 2021.