How Many Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Do You Need?

To prevent disease and live a little longer, research suggests the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you need per day...

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. No one likes to feel tricked, especially about their health. That’s why every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness with quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Stat of the week

  • The positive corner of masculinity

  • The two-serving challenge

Arnold’s Podcast

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Stat of the Week

Like strength, power is a “use it or lose it” ability that can disappear quickly. While strength declines around 1 to 3 percent annually after age 55, if you’re not strength training, power disappears at a rate almost double that.

Power is important for maintaining muscle and preventing bone health decline, and it is even associated with cognition and intelligence as you age.

The good news? Resistance training can offset the loss, and you can build and maintain strength and power into your 80s. 

The Positive Corner of Masculinity

From Ketch: We have an office tradition. Before Valentine’s Day and Christmas, Arnold brings us together to paint.

Lynn, who has worked for Arnold for years, is an actual good painter and gives all of us tips while also whipping up what we might be able to do in 2 minutes and making it look easier than it is.

But this is about the boys. I saw a tweet from a very popular influencer about the implications of buying your Valentine’s Day gift too early for men. I won’t subject you to it, but I’ll tell you he was saying men shouldn’t think ahead in a stupid and outdated way.

I immediately thought about Arnold. No one will tell him he’s unmanly (to his face, some losers will call him a “soy boy” online).

But every time we do this, he gives us the same advice: this shows time and effort. You can also buy gifts. But painting is work. You didn’t just pick something — you made something.

All of us have improved every year we’ve done this. My little paintings mostly hang in our bathrooms or in our Christmas bins to come out once a year, but they’ll always be mine.

We haven’t done the positive corner of masculinity column in quite a while. But that dumb tweet got me thinking: somebody has to keep countering these limited and stupid ideas. Because they just keep coming and coming, and they all do big numbers on social media where people want to be negative.

So, for all the men out there who don’t know what to do this week and might be planning to get flowers at the last minute — go on with the flowers. Go buy a few paints, a brush, and a tiny canvas before this weekend. Paint your Valentine’s Day card.

If you can, recruit some friends. Tell them Arnold does it with his. Because when you paint together, a funny thing happens. You have the normal guy banter — all of us making fun of each other. But when anyone shows what they’re working on, everyone says, “That’s a good idea!” and “Look how much better you’re getting.” I never want to lose the normal sparring that men do with each other; it’s one of my favorite parts of being a guy, and anytime people call our jokes at each other’s expense toxic masculinity, I bristle at it. There is also joy, though, in going out of your comfort zone together and doing something you probably haven’t done since elementary school and pumping each other up.

I don’t want to lie to you. Your painting probably won’t be Van Gogh. I recommend big strokes and no faces. Flowers and hearts are much easier to paint. Google things the people you care about like. For my painting this year, I literally Googled “bee with heart wings” and want to thank whoever did that illustration I tried to replicate on my canvas.

Most of all, do not let anyone tell you that isn’t manly. It’s working with your hands to make a gift, and not something last minute that someone else made.

It has actual meaning. Effort is not unmanly. I’d actually argue that someone who doesn’t make an effort can’t make any claims to masculinity at all.

This year, I painted for my daughter. Here that is. It isn’t great, but I think she’ll love it (mainly because she loves the sun and bees and butterflies in her children’s books, not because of my talent). If I’m lucky, she’ll have it long after I’m gone.

The Two-Serving Challenge

You probably know that fruits and vegetables are good for your health. But you might not realize how little you need to eat to experience a significant improvement in overall health.

​Research suggests that just two servings of fruits or vegetables daily could help you fight against cardiovascular disease and prevent premature death.

The scientists reviewed 95 studies of populations worldwide, including 2 million people, and assessed roughly 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease, 112,000 cancer cases, and 94,000 deaths.

They found that five servings of fruits and vegetables are the sweet spot for maximum health benefits and heart protection. You may have heard this number before and felt defeated if your idea of a serving of vegetables is the tomato sauce on a slice of pizza.

But if you dig deeper into the study, you’ll see just a couple of servings make a big difference. Eating two servings (technically, it’s 2.5 servings) was associated with a 6 percent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 13 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Remember, when building new habits, starting with an easier variation is better. Instead of going from zero fruits and vegetables to five servings, begin with two servings per day. 

If veggies or fruits are a struggle, find easy ways to mix the foods into meals you love or foods that make it easier to dilute the taste. You can add vegetables to your favorite sandwich, brew them into a soup, or blend them into a smoothie. 

Here’s a Pump Club-approved smoothie, which includes two servings of fruit in one drink:

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1 cup strawberries

  • 1 scoop of protein powder of choice (alternative: 1 cup Greek yogurt)

  • 8 oz of milk of choice

  • Handful of ice cubes

  • Bonus: 2 handfuls of spinach (you won’t taste it, but the texture and color will change, and you get an extra serving of vegetables)

Blend and enjoy!

Do you want more ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into your diet? Please complete the poll below, and we’ll create a new free guide to help you upgrade your nutrition without removing all the foods you love to eat. 

That’s it for this week! Thanks again to all of you for being a part of the positive corner of the internet. We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

-Arnold, Adam, and Daniel

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell