Eat Your Veggies!

Healthy & Fit Magazine February 2018

Tips to eat healthy (or healthier) with more fruits and veggies

The CDC reports just 13.1% of adults meet the recommendations for fruit intake and only 8.9% meet vegetable intake recommendations. Current recommendations for fruits and vegetable intake vary – either 5 to 9 servings per day or 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. What does this look like? Again, it varies, but a serving of fruit is 1 cup of fresh (a small apple, banana, or 20 grapes), 8 oz. of juice, or ¼ cup of dried fruit. A serving of vegetables is 1 cup of vegetables (raw or cooked) or 2 cups of leafy greens. So how can you get the “recommended” amounts in your diet and why should you?

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and some cancers; and help manage body weight when consumed instead of calorie-dense foods. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients like fiber to help you feel full and improve digestion, and vitamins and minerals to repair cell damage, boost immunity, improve brain function, and aid in metabolism.

The “how” of eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some ideas:

  • Make half of everything you eat fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat a vegetable at every meal. For example:

    • Breakfast: Baked sweet potato stuffed with ½ banana, unsweetened coconut, 1-2 Tbs. nut butter, chia seeds
    • Lunch: Big green salad or bowl of veggie soup
    • Dinner: Veggie noodles (zucchini, cucumber or carrot) or veggie rice (broccoli or cauliflower) topped with lean protein or roasted veggies
  • Include a fruit or vegetable in every snack – carrots and hummus or an apple with nut butter.
  • All forms count! Think fresh, frozen, dried, canned, or juice.
    • For frozen or canned vegetables or vegetable juice look for low-sodium or no-salt added or an ingredient list of just “vegetables”
    • For canned veggies, rinse the contents to remove about 40% more sodium
    • For frozen or canned fruit look for no sugar added or packed in its own juice
    • Watch portion sizes of fruit juice – you get all the sugar but none of the fiber found in the whole fruit
  • Buy one new fruit or veggie every time you go grocery shopping and research a tasty recipe to prep and eat it.
  • Shop at your local farmer’s market many even run year-round!
  • Try a local community supported agriculture program to get fresh, local produce each week.
 Photo credit: Noah Bradow |  Bradow Photography

Photo credit: Noah Bradow | Bradow Photography

Originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Healthy & Fit Magazine