Spring is finally here! The weather is beginning to get warmer, which for many allows more focus on produce in meals.
The Importance of Fruits & Vegetables
From an early age, the majority of us have likely been told to eat our fruits and vegetables. But, why are they so good for us?
Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy eating pattern and contain health-promoting properties such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. When enough fruits and vegetables are consumed daily, these properties can help reduce the risk of chronic disease. Choosing a variety of colors and types can help us maximize their health benefits since each one has a different combination and amount of health-promoting properties.
Are You Really Eating Enough Fruits & Vegetables?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a set of guidelines created by scientific experts in nutrition and medicine and published by the USDA. The guidelines provide recommendations that promote health and help prevent diet-related chronic diseases. The current daily recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption is 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables.
That may seem like a lot as about 80-90% of Americans are eating less than these recommended amounts. Recent studies have shown that inadequate or low consumption of fruits and vegetables increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers.
Below are a few tips on how to start eating more fruits and vegetables.
Ways to Include More Fruits & Veggies in Your Diet
- Aim to fill half your plate – try to include a fruit and/or vegetable on your plate with every meal.
- Incorporate them into snack time– try veggies with hummus or fruit with nut butter for a filling and nutritious snack.
- Add them into existing recipes– put fresh spinach in your smoothies, pureed squash in your mac and cheese, or mashed carrots into your potatoes.
- Consider frozen– frozen fruits & veggies are cheaper, more widely available, and some even contain more nutrients because they are frozen at peak ripeness.
- Sip soups– load up your soups with chopped or pureed veggies.
- Add more flavor– try out some different spices, cook in a healthy fat like olive or canola oil, or add a little cheese to make veggies delicious. Added bonus: research shows a bit of fat helps the body absorb these nutrients better.
- Variety – branch out so you don’t get bored; eat the rainbow!
For more information and support with increasing produce in your day, email the dietitians at Waverley Oaks at [email protected] to set up an individualized nutrition.