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Most of us do not eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. We’ve heard it all our lives. Newspapers, social media, television, radio… the thrust of information coming at us each day can be overwhelming. Many of us have gotten quite good at tuning out what we don’t need to know at that exact moment and with all the fake news out there, it’s no wonder. So why should we stop and pay attention to those who say that fruits and veggies matter? How is this information different? Because there’s compelling scientific evidence that stands behind those statements. Studies tell us we can improve our health now and in the future if we do this one simple thing: eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s not a gimmick or a pill. It’s not like one of those infomercials that promise to throw in something extra if we order in the next fifteen minutes. It’s real, it’s easy and it can help make us feel better today and in the future.
It is recommended that adults eat two to six and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day or the equivalent of four to 13 servings. If we do this one simple thing, we are taking steps to improve our health. According to Harvard School of Public Health, “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check.”
Add more fruits and veggies to your diet
A colorful variety of fruits and vegetables provide the wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals your body uses to maintain good health and energy levels, help protect against the effects of aging, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. It’s important to sample the complete color spectrum every day to get the full health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Blue/purple fruits and vegetables help maintain: a lower risk of some cancers, urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging. Get blue/purple every day with foods such as: blackberries, blueberries, black currants, dried plums, elderberries, purple figs, purple grapes, plums, raisins, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant, purple Belgian endive, purple peppers, and potatoes (purple-fleshed).
Green vegetables help to maintain: a lower risk of some cancers, vision health, and strong bones and teeth. Go green every day with fruits and vegetables like these: avocados, green apples, green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, limes, green pears, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoflower, broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, green beans, green cabbage, celery, Chayote squash, cucumbers, endive, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, green onion, okra, peas, green pepper, sugar snap peas, spinach, watercress, and zucchini.
White, tan, and brown fruits and vegetables help maintain: heart health, cholesterol levels that are already healthy, and a lower risk of some cancers. Get all the health benefits of the white group by including foods such as: bananas, brown pears, dates, white nectarines, white peaches, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, kohlrabi, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, and potatoes (white fleshed), shallots, turnips, white corn.
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables help maintain: a healthy heart, vision health, a healthy immune system, and a lower risk of some cancers. Choose yellow/orange fruits and vegetables like yellow apples. apricots, cantaloupe, yellow figs, grapefruit, golden kiwifruit, lemon, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, yellow pears, persimmons, pineapples, tangerines, yellow watermelon, yellow beets, butternut squash, carrots, yellow peppers, yellow potatoes, pumpkin, rutabagas, yellow summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow winter squash.
Red fruits and vegetables help maintain: a healthy heart, memory function, a lower risk of some cancers, and urinary tract health. Include red fruits and vegetables in your diet such as red apples, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, pink/red grapefruit, red pears, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, radishes, radicchio, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes.
For more information on choosing fruits and veggies by color, visit Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey: https://www.cinj.org/sites/cinj/files/documents/Sept15FruitVegMonth.pdf
Which Fruits and Veggies are in season and when?
The United States Department of Agriculture website provides a partial list of which fruits and vegetables are in season during which months.
|Brussels Sprouts||Onions and Leeks||Green Beans||Blackberries|
|Garlic||Sweet Potatoes and Yams||Mushrooms||Corn|
|Ginger||Turnips||Onions and Leeks||Cucumbers|
|Sweet Potatoes and Yams||Kiwifruit|
|Winter Squash||Lima Beans|
|Summer Squash and Zucchini|
According to Produce for Better Health Foundation, the number of cups of fruits and vegetables your family needs daily depends on caloric needs, which are determined by age, gender and activity level. Given the abundant variety and multiple product forms from which to choose, eating the recommended amount is easier than you think. Every step taken toward eating more fruits and vegetables helps your family be at their best!
For a specific breakdown of recommendations for by gender, age, and activity level, visit http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/myplate-and-what-is-a-serving-of-fruits-and-vegetables.
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