With convenience food and fast food easily available, many people aren’t getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that are vital to your health. It is recommended to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Many people find it difficult to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet due to busy lives, but it is more important than ever to eat more whole and natural foods.
There are benefits to eating more produce that people often forget or overlook. Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. They provide many nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C. Eating a diet with a variety of vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, protect against certain types of cancers, help lower blood pressure and may help control your weight. If your vegetables can’t always be fresh, frozen or canned are both acceptable.
Fruit is also low in fat and calories. It also provides many nutrients while providing many of the same benefits as vegetables. Fruit can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried.
Here are some tips to increasing produce in your diet.
- Start in the produce department when grocery shopping
- Pick two to three types of fruits and two to three types of vegetables each week – vary them weekly
- Wash and cut up your produce when you get home so it’s ready to use
- Plan your meals around the vegetables instead of around the protein
- Include fruit with your breakfast and/or mid-day snacks
- If on the go, choose fruits that can be eaten easily, such as bananas, apples or grapes
- Buy produce that’s in season to get the freshest and save money
- Make lettuce a staple by having a side salad with meals or a salad as a meal
- Keep a fruit bowl on the table
- Keep some canned or frozen fruit on hand for when you can’t buy or use fresh produce
- Use fruit in your breakfast cereal or on your salads
- Choose a salad as an entrée when eating out
Try filling your plate with half of fruits and/or vegetables and get a variety of color on your plate. If you can’t get a lot of different vegetables on your plate in one meal, it is ok to double up. Variety is important but may not always be realistic. It’s fun to try new recipes. Look online for ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables in new recipes.
Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet may take effort, but with a little planning and preparation, it can become part of your daily routine and the healthy benefits will make it worth it.