Baton Rouge --- When was the last time you munched on crunchy carrot sticks, tart green grapes or a delicious red apple during a snack break at the office? If you regularly forgo the above in favor of chips, candy or crackers, you are in the majority. According to a 2002 Chronic Disease Surveillance Report issued by the Department of Health --- Office of Public Health, more than 84 percent of Louisiana residents do not consume the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
Nationally, the numbers are not much higher. The same report showed 76 percent of Americans do not get their recommended servings either. This is particularly alarming because eating the proper servings of fruit and vegetables has been proven to lower a person’s risk of contracting cancer or becoming obese. Also, these foods are very high in healthy vitamins and minerals that make people stronger and help them stay healthy.
To get Louisianians back on the road to better health, LDH employees are working to promote National 5-A-Day Month, which the National Cancer Institute has designated as September. Louisiana citizens are encouraged to make an effort to eat the recommended daily servings (two to four fruits and three to five vegetables) during this month.
“Numerous studies have proven that taking simple steps to include more fruits and vegetables in your daily meals can lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, all of which occur in high numbers throughout our state,” said Secretary David W. Hood. “Proper nutrition also will lower the increasing rates of obesity we see in Louisiana. One of the simplest measures our citizens can take in their own preventive health care is to follow these guidelines and eat well.”
OPH employees will promote 5-A-Day Month by providing information to state employees in New Orleans. They will be outside the Louisiana State Office building on Sept. 17 and 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., offering free samples and pamphlets about the importance of eating five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
The employees also are issuing a 5-A-Day Fruit and Vegetable Challenge to employees at the State Office Building, encouraging them to eat the recommended servings during the week of Sept. 21-28. Employees boasting the best weekly intake can enter their names in a prize drawing. Entry forms for the contest will be available at the information table display.
“Five servings sounds overwhelming, and people often think they will have to eat all day to reach the recommended allowance,” said Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health Sharon Howard. “However, when you look at the correct portion sizes for each serving, you will see five a day actually is a very manageable part of the daily diet.”
Suggested sizes for one fruit or vegetable serving are:
· Six ounces (three-fourths of a cup) of pure fruit or vegetable juice
· Half a cup of cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans or peas)
· Half a cup of cooked, raw, frozen or canned fruit (canned in 100 percent juice)
· One medium-sized fruit
· One cup of raw, leafy vegetables
· One-fourth cup of dried fruit
For recipe ideas or more information about the 5-A-Day program, please visit www.5aday.gov or contact Louisiana’s 5-A-Day coordinator Sheila White at (504) 568-8842.