Sufficient intake of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with better health and reduced risk of non-communicable diseases. Fruits and vegetables are laden with vitamins and minerals that are essential for health and proper growth and development. They also provide the body with anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, which are compounds prevent diseases.

Rise of NCDs

Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption is now the top risk factor for global mortality, with conditions associated with low fruits and vegetable consumption causing approximately 1.7 million deaths annually. In addition, insufficient intake is estimated to cause 14 per cent of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, about 11 per cent of heart diseases and 9 per cent of stroke deaths globally.

To improve overall health and reduce risk of some NCDs like heart diseases, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer, WHO recommends the consumption of at least 2 servings of fruits and at least 3 servings of vegetables per day, which is equivalent to 400 grams of fruits and vegetables.

A serving of vegetables is equivalent to one cup of uncooked or half a cup of cooked vegetables. A serving of fruits is equivalent to one medium whole fruit or half a cup of chopped fruits.

The minimum amount of vegetables that one should take per day is equivalent to one and a half cups of cooked  vegetables or three cups of chopped uncooked vegetables. The minimum recommended intake of fruits is three medium sized or one and a half cups of chopped fruits. 

Do not binge

Fruits should not be binged on. Consumption should be spread throughout the day due to their high sugar content. Some vegetables like carrots, beets and green peas are also high in sugar and should therefore be consumed in the right quantities especially by people with diabetes.

According to the Kenya Stepwise Survey for non–communicable diseases risk factors 2015, only 6 per cent of Kenyans consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. A fact associated with the unfortunate rise in non- communicable diseases in the country. This rise in non-communicable diseases is an indicator that Kenyans need to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Your diet and nutrition are central to your health thus poor eating habits will have a substantial negative impact on your health.