Eat a Rainbow of Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are necessary to maintain and support a healthy body.
Not only are fruits and vegetables a staple of a healthy diet, they also add a rainbow of colors to your plate. The Standard American Diet is low in fruits and vegetables and high in processed and packaged foods. Make it your goal to fill about half of your plate with vegetables at least at lunch and dinner. People who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes and have better weight control long-term.
Loading half of your plate with vegetables, especially non-starchy ones, will help increase fiber intake. This will make you feel fuller longer, which can decrease snacking and help you lose weight. Plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than processed and packaged foods and snacks. Fewer calories can also result in weight loss!
Here are some helpful tips to increase your fruit and veggie intake:
- Fruit is typically the easier of the two to incorporate into any diet. Fruits are often very sweet and can be a filling way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Choosing whole, fresh or frozen fruit will guarantee the most fiber and nutrients from minimal processing. Canned fruits can also be a part of a healthy diet but choose no added sugar or fruits in their own juice to reduce the amount of added sugars. Dried fruit often can have added sugar during processing. A healthier choice would be incorporating freeze dried fruit as a more convenient option or when fresh or frozen options are not available. Juices are also often higher in sugar, so the best option is to always eat your fruit rather than drink it!
- Fruit with skin is “nature’s prepackaged food.” For example, apples, bananas, oranges or tangerines are easy to carry with you for a convenient snack. You can add berries to sweeten oatmeal or smoothies. Bake apples or pears with cinnamon for a naturally sweet dessert. Try substituting the fat in muffin or cake mixes for fruit puree such as applesauce or banana to lower the fat.
- Vegetables may seem harder to incorporate but can bump up the volume of any meal! Adding in more vegetables increases fiber and vitamins, while adding fewer calories than most other side dishes. A convenient way to add veggies to any meal is to use frozen steamable bags of vegetables. These are typically unseasoned, so you can season yourself. Try incorporating veggies into your pasta dishes or casseroles. Add spinach or chopped zucchini or try noodles made from veggies like “zoodles.” A colorful side salad is a great way to start any meal. Try incorporating vegetables into your snack time as dippers. Cut up vegetables like raw carrots, broccoli, bell peppers or cucumber to dip into salsa, ranch dressing, hummus or your favorite dip.
There are a multitude of great reasons to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and many easy ways to do so. Set a goal to eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruit each day to maintain good health. The more the better!
Set a goal to eat at least five servings or vegetables and fruit each day.