"Lagom" is not always best
In Sweden we have a word called "Lagom" and it means that something is kind of average, but in a positive way. Like happy medium, not too much not too little. It's just lagom! We use the word a lot, and we Swedes like to be just lagom when it comes to most things. Talking about food, people would say "I believe it's best to eat a varied diet, a little of everything, and lagom much". This holds true when we it comes to quantity, but not when it comes to quality.
The Swedish national food and dietary guidelines today state we should eat at least 500g fruit and vegetables per day (potatoes not included), or 5 a day, as it's also expressed in many countries. But really - we would all benefit from eating much MORE!!! The current guidelines are based largely on epidemiological data, and one reason to why the recommendation is not higher, is because then it would be too hard for people to achieve it, as many already struggle to get there. For instance, in Sweden only 2 out of 10 reach it, and in the UK only 1 out of 3. However, the recommendation emphasize at least 500g/day, and it really means the more the merrier. In Hungary they recommend 5-9 servings per day, good guys!
Studies shows that by increasing our fruit and vegetable intake to 6-7 portions a day would decrease many risk markers for CVD (cardiovascular disease) by increasing vascular function and lowering inflammatory markers (1). A recent study by Imperial Colleague of London showed that if we all ate 10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, we could prevent up to 7,8 millions premature deaths worldwide, as it would lower our cholesterols and blood pressures, lessen our risks for heart attacks, strokes and cancer, and strengthen our immun system (2). Contrary, a fruit and vegetable consumption of less than 5 servings per day is associated with progressively shorter survival and higher mortality rates according to a Swedish cohort study with over 70,000 participants who were followed over 13 years (3).
This clearly shows that it is time that we shift our focus from having salad or veggies as sides, to having them as the main part of our plates, to build our meal around them. Fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, beans, lentils, chickpeas, grains, nuts and seeds should be our stable diet, where most of our energy and nutrients from. The above studies are just a few examples, there are plenty more out there showing the benefits of eating more greens. Results also show that people who eat more greens have less prevalence of Alzheimer, Depression, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc, and not to forget - most people find it easier to keep a healthy weight with larger vegetable consumption. Just keeping a healthy weight is a life saver on it's own, as obesity is linked to many diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Check out the recipe side for inspiration to cook more green, hopefully you will find something that looks interesting and tempting to try. My best advice would be to start your day with a bowl of fruit and berries, or a fruit smoothie, or berries and banana on your porridge for instance, as by doing that you have already gone far along the road and got a the best of the day!
1. Macready AL, et al. Flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables improve microvascular reactivity and inflammatory status in men at risk of cardiovascular disease–FLAVURS: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 99: 479-89.
2. Dagfinn Aune et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality–a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Epidemiol 2017 dyw319.
3. Bellavia A, Larsson SC, Bottai M, Wolk A, Orsini N. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause mortality: a dose-response analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98:454–9.