Whether you eat them fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut up, or pureed, the benefits of adding fruits and vegetables to your diet are undeniable. Many people are on a never-ending quest for the magic cure to their weight struggles or chronic health problems…and this is it. Eating a balanced diet is so simple, yet many people don’t do it. Here are several reasons why you should eat more fruits and veggies, and tips to help you add them into your daily routine!
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat, and are cholesterol free. Rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, they aid in the prevention of obesity and many of the chronic diseases that are affecting Americans today. Consuming more veggies and fruits can protect against certain types of cancers, heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. Still not convinced? Fruits and vegetables can bolster immunity, reduce inflammation, and keep energy levels up by keeping blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. The lower caloric content of many whole foods may also aid in weight loss.
Potassium rich foods such as bananas, spinach, white/sweet potatoes, tomato paste/sauce/juice, beet greens, lentils, kidney beans, white beans, and soybeans, help lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and reduce risk of kidney stones.
Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and asparagus have high levels of folate, which is especially important for women who may become pregnant due to its role in preventing spina bifida, anencephaly, and neural tube defects. Folate also plays a part in the synthesis of red blood cells.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants vitamin A, which is good for skin and eyes and helps prevent infection, and vitamin C, which keeps teeth and gums healthy, aids in iron absorption, and helps cuts/wounds heal.
Many fruits and veggies contain fiber, which is important in preventing constipation and diverticulosis. It also helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
The USDA dietary guidelines for Americans recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal. Those eating a 2000 calorie diet should aim for eating 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. For more nutrition tips and information, including portion and serving sizes, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/
Tips for adding fruits and veggies to your life:
- You will eat what you keep in your pantry and refrigerator so make sure to stock up on whole foods, closest to their natural state including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, lean dairy and meat.
- Keep fruit out in a fruit bowl where you will see it.
- Keep things interesting by exploring the produce aisle and choosing something new.
POWER SMOOTHIE: 1 whole mango, 1 C strawberries, 3 C spinach, 1/2 C carrots, juice from 1/2 a lime, dash of cinnamon and ginger
- Buy produce in season to save money and enjoy the most flavor.
- Center your meals around fruits and veggies as the main component such as soups or salads. Make less pasta or rice and instead stir in extra veggies like spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, squash, or red pepper.
- While grilling out make veggie kabobs as a fresh alternative to chips or other less healthy sides.
- Make your pizza crust thin and 100% whole wheat. Limit cheese and pile on the veggies!
- Take whole fruits or cut up veggies as a snack while you’re out instead of grabbing packaged items like granola bars, candy bars, or chips.
- Keep dried fruit at your desk or in your bag for when hunger strikes.
- Add fruit to pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.