You can have your fruit and veggies and eat them too! A diet that includes a colorful array of fruits and vegetables is a great start to a healthy eating plan. Not only do fruits and vegetables taste great, they add beautiful color and interesting texture to every meal! Fruit and veggies are power packed with disease fighting phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. The typical American diet does not even come close to meeting the recommended amount of servings of fruits and vegetables. In fact, a recent survey looking at fruit and vegetable consumption in the United States reported that 67% of those surveyed ate less that 2 fruits per day. Additionally, 72 percent ate less than 3 vegetables per day. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest food guide pyramid recommends that all American adults consume 2-3 cups of vegetables daily along with 1 ½ -2 cups of fruit. For more information, check out the USDA’s food guide pyramid website at mypyramid.gov.
Additional studies reveal the benefits of adequate fruit and vegetable consumption as it relates to disease risk. Scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have conducted key studies. Their findings showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, as well is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat and contains fat-free or low-fat milk products. This eating plan is known as the DASH eating plan or Dash diet. The Dash diet recommends on average 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2-2 ½ cups of fruit per day. Additionally, eating adequate fruits and vegetables may lower your cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day due to their role in prevention of cancer.
Although it may appear to be a daunting task to meet your fruit and vegetables goals, it is truly easier than you may think. Consider the following: Add a glass of orange juice to your breakfast, snack on a pear mid morning, enjoy a large bowl of vegetable soup for lunch, snack on some trail mix mid afternoon, and lastly for dinner, enjoy a colorful salad with a sweet potato and lean meat or fish.
Let’s do the breakdown:
- Orange juice = 1 fruit
- Pear = 1 fruit
- Vegetable soup = 2 vegetables
- Trail mix = 1 fruit
- Salad = 2 vegetables
- Sweet potato = 1-2 vegetables
Add this up and you have 3 fruits, and 6 vegetable servings potentially. If you remember to snack on fruit or vegetables with every meal and snack opportunity, you will find meeting your fruit and vegetable quota quite simple. When you eat meals that do not contain fruits and vegetables, it becomes more difficult to meet your goals.
Quick tips to help you meet your fruit and vegetable quota:
- Always start your day with fruit juice, fruit topping in yogurt or cereal, a fruit smoothie, or simply grab a piece of fruit.
- Consider making an omelet with an array of vegetable fillings such as green and red peppers and mushrooms.
- Bring fruit to work or school for snack time.
- Be sure to include a vegetable every lunch.
- Keep cut up fruit or vegetables in a see through container at eye level in your refrigerator.
- Open a can of fruit in its own juice; serve in a bowl with toothpicks when making dinner. Kids will come out of the woodwork for this tasty and easy to fix treat.
- Make your favorite pumpkin or banana bread recipe.