Did you know that there are very few adults and even fewer adolescents actually getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily? The CDC estimates that only 14% of American adults and 9.5% of adolescents reach the MINIMUM requirement of 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables daily! Why does that even matter? Disease prevention and overall health, not to mention mental health! Fruits and vegetables contain numerous vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and other phytochemicals important in keeping your brain and your body healthy. If your diet is lacking in this area, you are really missing out on achieving an optimal state of health!
The research is conclusive! Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and help to prevent eye and digestive problems! WOW!!! All these benefits just from eating good food! Keep in mind that each fruit and vegetable provides a different nutrient, so we need to be eating all varieties and all colors to maximize the benefit!
So, today, ask yourself how many fruits and vegetables you are getting each day. Do you make an effort to eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal? Or, is there room for improvement? And, if you’re not getting at least the recommended minimum, how could you improve?
Side note: If you think you can just take a multivitamin/mineral supplement and get the same benefits, remember this: taking a multivitamin is not the same as eating the whole food! Your body does not absorb nutrients from a multivitamin in the same way it does a whole food. Eat the whole food to reap the best benefits!
The recommended MINIMUM is 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables per day, but the GOAL is 9 combined servings each day! What is a serving?
1serving = 1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup fruit juice; 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables, 1/2 cup vegetable juice
I can’t overstate the importance of fruits and vegetables in improving overall health! If you want more detailed information on the benefits of fruits and vegetables, check out these links:
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/ and https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-nutrients-health
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can seem like a tough task, but there are some simple ways to increase your daily intake without much pain! Remember, you will not experience an optimal state of health without getting an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables! Take it meal by meal and before you know it, you’ll reach your goal for the day! Fruits and veggies are low in calories, high in nutrient content, as well as fiber and water! So, if you have excess weight, adding more fruits and vegetables in place of junk food will definitely help you reach your weight loss goal! Try some of the tips below from the American Cancer Society to help you get at least 5 combined servings (goal = 9) per day:
Slice a medium or large banana on top of your cereal (2 fruit servings)
If you drink 100% fruit or vegetable juice (1/2 c = 1 fruit or veggie serving)
Add ½ cup berries to yogurt (1 fruit serving)
Try a smoothie with a variety of fruit, unsweetened almond milk, and spinach (1 or more fruit and veggie servings)
Choose a single-serving container of applesauce (1 fruit serving)
1 cup raw baby carrots (1 veggie serving)
1 small piece of fresh fruit (1 fruit serving)
Have a pita sandwich loaded with different veggies (1/2 cup veggies = ½ serving)
1 cup of hearty vegetable soup (1/2 veggie serving)
Add a small side salad instead of potato chips (2 cups = 2 veggie servings)
Add ½ cup melon slices, peaches, or other favorite fruit on top of a toasted whole grain muffin (1 serving fruit)
Make a nice fruit salad for an after dinner treat (1/2 cup = 1 fruit serving)
Other tips to help you reach your goal:
At each meal, fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables
Layer lettuce, tomatoes, beans, onions, and other vegetables on sandwiches and wraps
Add tomato sauce and extra vegetables to pastas and vegetable soups
Choose a vegetarian dish when eating out
Challenge yourself to try new vegetables from the produce aisle, frozen foods section, or your local farmer’s market
Keep dried fruits and vegetable juice boxes in your desk drawer and glove compartment (but watch the sugar content!)
Keep a bowl full of fresh veggies and fruits on your kitchen counter for quick snacking
If you’re short on time, look for pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables, such as baby carrots and broccoli florets, at the grocery store
For more great tips visit: https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/easy-ways-to-add-fruits-veggies-to-your-day
Check out the recipes below for creative ways to increase your fruit and veggie intake:
Pineapple Blueberry Lime Salad
1/2 large fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite sized pieces (or drain canned pineapple)
2-3 C fresh blueberries
Young Living Lime vitality essential oil
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 tbsp honey
Greek yogurt for serving, honey flavored or plain with a small amount of honey stirred in
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime essential oil, lime juice and honey. In a larger bowl combine the pineapple and blueberries. Pour the honey mixture over top and stir to combine. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 days until ready to serve. Stir well before serving and serve with a dollop of honey Greek yogurt. Recipe adapted from: http://fooddoodles.com/2012/06/22/pineapple-and-blueberry-fruit-salad/
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples, Golden Raisins, and Walnuts
1 lb Brussels sprouts, Halved
2 cups chopped cauliflower
2 Apples –peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil, or more if needed
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, apples, and onion onto the prepared baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper; stir until evenly coated.
Bake in the preheated oven until Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer Brussels sprouts mixture to a serving bowl. Fold in raisins and walnuts