By Laura Slatalla, recent ASU Nutrition Student
We often plan meals around meats and bread, but fruits and vegetables should make up about half of our plates, according to the USDA.
When our diet is feeling unbalanced, we just need a little encouragement to increase fresh fruit and vegetable intake! Besides the delicious flavors and versatile recipes you can create with your fresh produce, keep in mind all the health benefits.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals. Many Americans aren’t reaching the recommended intake for magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, and K. The body needs these vitamins and minerals to keep blood pressure in check, fight against cancer-causing cells, keep bones strong, and maintain good eyesight.
- Eating different colors provides phytochemicals that protect against cancer. All that produce will help prevent a lot of diseases by lowering your risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
- Maintaining weight is easier when you get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Vegetables are generally low in calories and salt, so you won’t hang on to extra water weight. They are easy to snack on and fill you up so that there’s less room on your plate for higher calorie food! A more balanced diet is the first step to losing weight and keeping it off.
- Reaching fiber goals will be so much easier. Fiber is another thing most American’s aren’t getting enough of. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain soluble and insoluble fiber which will keep the gut healthy and lower cholesterol!
- Fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for heart disease. They don’t have any cholesterol, and often have little fat, and combined with the extra fiber in your diet that lowers cholesterol, even more, you’ll be doing your heart a huge favor!
- They’re cheaper. Even if you choose one day a week to cook a vegetarian meal, with the main entre as eggplant or Portobello mushrooms, that grocery bill will be cut down. Having perishables in your fridge will also motivate you to cook them fast, so they won’t go to waste.
Overall you and your family will be feeling healthier and happier with more fresh fruits and vegetables in your life! Get to snacking on those crunchy fresh fruits and veggies and make your family meals so much more colorful and appealing! We can all be proud of the meals we put on the table, especially when they’re doing our families good.