New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Diet And Exercise Tip The Scales As Americans' Most Popular New Year's Resolutions

January 2, 1998
National Cancer Institute
As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, most Americans were looking toward a healthier, fitter New Year. According to a recent nationwide survey, 51 percent of Americans will resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables in 1998.

Ringing in the New Year with 5 A Day will help Americans reach their healthful resolutions in 1998

As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, most Americans were looking toward a healthier, fitter New Year. According to a recent nationwide survey, 51 percent of Americans will resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables in 1998.

Americans are committed to living a healthier lifestyle. In fact, five out of the top six New Year's resolutions for 1998 involve diet or exercise. In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, Americans will resolve to exercise more (67 percent), eat a healthier diet (61 percent), reduce their stress level (58 percent), reduce the fat in their diet (49 percent), and lose weight (48 percent).

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day to reduce the risk of cancer and help improve overall health. Ringing in the New Year with 5 A Day will help Americans live up to all of their healthful resolutions in '98.

"Healthy living and healthy eating are top priorities for Americans this coming year, and eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day is a smart and easy way to attain that healthy goal," says Gloria Stables, M.S., R.D., director of NCI's 5 A Day for Better Health program. "More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of eating 5 A Day. The New Year is a perfect time for everyone to try to do it."

The percentage of adult Americans who know they should eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health is at an all-time high-increasing from 8 percent to 39 percent since NCI and the Produce for Better Health foundation (PBH) launched the national 5 A Day for Better Health program in 1991. Adults are also getting closer to actually doing it, with average daily consumption up to 4.4 servings.

NCI offers tips for the well-intentioned Americans who resolve to eat a healthier diet, but struggle to overcome the obstacles of winter and the holidays. For instance, many Americans (48 percent) tend to fill up on too many holiday leftovers to fit in fruits and vegetables. Keeping a container of bite-size vegetables with low-fat salad dressing to nibble on throughout the day, or having cut carrots, celery, and oranges nearby is a convenient way to balance out the rich holiday leftovers with 5 A Day.

Those Americans (36 percent) who say the limited variety of fresh fruits and vegetables makes it hard to eat them during the winter months can check out the expanding frozen section of the supermarket, since frozen, canned, dried, and fresh fruits and vegetables all count toward 5 A Day.

And one 5 A Day serving is smaller than many people think. A medium piece of fruit; 1/2 cup of cooked, canned, or cut-up vegetables or fruit; a cup of lettuce and other raw leafy vegetables; 3/4 cup (6 oz) of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice; 1/2 cup of cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas); or 1/4 cup dried fruit all count.

Consumers can call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or visit the 5 A Day homepage at for more information on nutrition and cancer.

* Read on for more innovative tips on meeting that 5 A Day resolution in the New Year.

* 5 A Day media materials are available for unlimited use, free of charge, via Macintosh computer disk or Porter Novelli's Digital News Service (DNS). Call Steve Alexander at 202/973-5868 for more information about the DNS.

Meet That 5 A Day Resolution with These Ideas for the New Year

A recent nationwide survey asked Americans what keeps them from eating more fruits and vegetables in the winter. Responses showed: -- A tendency to fill up on other types of food that are around the house during the holidays was the most frequent response (48 percent). -- Limited selection of fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter months was No. 2 (36 percent). -- Craving fruits and vegetables less during the winter came in third (28 percent).

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reminds Americans that eating 5 A Day is easy and delicious all year round. Keep in mind: -- Eating those crisp, crunchy greens (and vitamin-rich reds, oranges, and yellows) is a delicious way to get back on the 5 A Day track for the New Year and add a healthful balance to all the rich holiday leftovers. -- There is an abundance of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables in your local market, not to mention the ever-expanding selection of canned, frozen, and dried-delicious options that all count toward 5 A Day. -- To whet your appetite for fruits and vegetables in the winter, look for bright red beets, sweet and white potatoes, and a wide variety of squash and citrus fruits, all of which are at their peak this time of year.

Here are more 5 A Day tips for easy, hearty winter dining:

For Everyday Meals: -- Roast 3 cups of your favorite winter vegetables with some minced garlic, one teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper at 400 degrees F. until tender. Serve hot, or serve cool with a shot of balsamic vinegar. This is an easy way to use winter root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and rutabaga. -- Add a can of drained chickpeas or other beans to a green salad-easily done, even if you're short on time. -- Add dried cranberries or cherries to your favorite stuffing recipe. Even when you're busy with holiday activities, it will quickly make your meal more festive. -- Check out the ever-expanding frozen vegetable section of the supermarket for dinner ideas. Try baby peas or baby corncobs, or carrots with pearl onions. -- Add drained, canned fruit to flavored gelatin. It's a classic. -- Serve roasted vegetables on top of pasta, brown rice, or couscous, and add a sprinkle of Parmesan or low-fat feta cheese. -- Make an easy fruit sauce for meat by simmering fresh or canned apple or pear slices with low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and sliced onion. When the mixture has reduced, the fruit slices are soft, and the onion slices are translucent, serve with baked pork or chicken. -- Cut red or white potatoes into chunks, leaving the skin on, and spread in a roasting pan; pour in low-sodium chicken broth to cover the chunks halfway, and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, basting occasionally. Season to taste. -- Make a cooked vegetable salad by steaming carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, cooling, and adding a low-fat vinaigrette. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables. -- Bake an acorn squash at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until soft enough to cut. Slice it open, scrape out the seeds, and fill each half with frozen green beans. Continue baking for about 30 minutes, until squash is soft and green beans are cooked. -- Try a different kind of spaghetti: Slice open a spaghetti squash and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve with hot tomato sauce. -- Toss steamed vegetables with some lemon or orange zest. To zest a lemon or an orange, grate it lightly, just to get the colored part of the peel. (Avoid the white pith, which tastes bitter.) -- Add fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to your favorite canned soups before heating to make them more of a meal. Or add canned beans, which also count as a 5 A Day serving.

For Snacks and Drinks: -- Assemble a colorful fresh vegetable tray for a Sunday afternoon football game, with broccoli, carrots, and green beans. To bring out the vegetables' brightness, blanch them first by using a strainer to dip them in boiling water. Serve with low-fat salad dressing. -- Try some low-sodium vegetable juice with a shot of hot sauce, a sprig of celery, and a sprinkle of pepper for a non-alcoholic party alternative. -- Try a bowl of red and green apple slices (sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning), served alongside low-fat vanilla yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon, for dipping. It might help keep you away from high-fat holiday leftovers. For kids, make fruit flavored gelatin more festive by serving it with green and red apple slices. Try lime or cherry gelatin for holiday colors. -- Arrange red, green, and yellow bell peppers in a bowl with a side of low-fat ranch dressing. -- Concoct a tantalizing blend of 100 percent fruit juices for a New Year's Resolution Punch-try orange, pineapple and cranberry together, for example. -- Freeze grapefruit or pineapple juice in an ice-cube tray, and use these tangy cubes to add zip to a pitcher of orange juice. Or make cranberry cubes for a pitcher of apple juice.

For Dessert: -- Cozy up on a dark, winter evening by drinking warm apple cider with mulling spices. (Mulling spices are available in the spice section of your grocery store; otherwise, simply add cinnamon and nutmeg.) -- Cook 2 cups of cranberries in a pan with some water until they soften and pop open. Meanwhile, prepare a package of strawberry gelatin. Stir in the cranberries and refrigerate until firm for a fantastic, fruity dessert. -- Substitute prune puree (available in the baking section) for cooking oil when making winter quickbreads - in most cases, a 1:1 ratio will work. -- Make a quick, guilt-free 5 A Day Peach Melba. In the blender, puree a package of frozen raspberries with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; strain seeds, if desired. Place canned peach halves in a bowl, warm in the microwave for 30 seconds, and serve in individual bowls with low-fat vanilla yogurt and the cold raspberry sauce. -- Alternate drained canned fruit and low-fat yogurt in a tall, iced glass for a low-fat parfait. -- Assemble a platter of fresh and dried fruit and some cheese for a snack or light dessert.

Roast Chicken with Dried Fruit and Rice Stuffing (Serves 6)

Ingredients: 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 cup long grain white rice OR 3/4 cup long grain white rice and 1/4 c wild rice

1 1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth

3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup assorted dried fruit, chopped (dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, prunes, apples, currants)

1 roasting chicken (about 5-6 lbs.)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Make stuffing (NOTE: stuffing must be made ahead and cooled before stuffing chicken): In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Saute onions until soft. Add rice and saute for a minute or so, until all the rice is coated with oil. Add chicken broth, cider, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover and turn heat down to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and place in bowl. Toss in dried fruit. Refrigerate to cool completely.

Prepare chicken: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove giblets and rinse chicken with water and dry. Sprinkle skin with salt and pepper. Stuff chicken with rice stuffing. Place remaining stuffing in ovenproof casserole dish and cover with foil. Put in oven about 30 minutes before chicken is done. Tie the legs of the chicken together and place on roasting rack. Roast chicken for about 1 1/2 hrs., depending on the size of the chicken (about 20 minutes per pound), basting frequently. A thermometer inserted into the inside portion of the thigh meat should register 165 degrees and the juices should run clear.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. Remove stuffing to a separate bowl. Remove the skin from the chicken. Serve the chicken with rice stuffing.

Counts as 1 serving toward your 5 A Day

Ginger Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup (Serves 6)

Ingredients: 1 lb. bag carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger

1 small onion, diced

4 cups canned low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup evaporated skim milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


In a stockpot, combine carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger, onion and stock. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat down and simmer until carrots and potatoes are tender (about 35 minutes). Remove from heat and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour back into pot and add milk. Reheat slowly until hot. Serve.

Counts as 2 servings toward your 5 A Day

Warm Fruit Compote (Serves 6)

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups assorted dried fruit, cut into chunks (dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, apples, raisins, currants, prunes etc.)

1 cinnamon stick

2 strips of orange peel made with a vegetable peeler

2 strips of lemon peel made with a vegetable peeler

2 cups apple cider


Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until fruit is soft and cider thickens. Serve over low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt, angel food cake, or eat as is warm or at room temperature.

Counts as 1 serving toward your 5 A Day

Roasted Green Beans (Serves 6)

Ingredients: 2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed (fresh or frozen)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash green beans. If using frozen, thaw before using and drain of all excess water. In a roasting pan, toss beans in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake, tossing occasionally, for about 30-35 minutes or until beans begin to lightly brown and soften. If using frozen beans, it may take longer for the beans to begin browning. Toss in sliced garlic and balsamic vinegar. Bake another 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Counts as 2 servings toward your 5 A Day

Festive Spinach Salad (Serves 6 as a first course)

Ingredients: 1 10-ounce bag pre-w


Story Source:

Materials provided by National Cancer Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

National Cancer Institute. "Diet And Exercise Tip The Scales As Americans' Most Popular New Year's Resolutions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 1998. <>.
National Cancer Institute. (1998, January 2). Diet And Exercise Tip The Scales As Americans' Most Popular New Year's Resolutions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2024 from
National Cancer Institute. "Diet And Exercise Tip The Scales As Americans' Most Popular New Year's Resolutions." ScienceDaily. (accessed March 2, 2024).

Explore More
from ScienceDaily