Eat your vegetables. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Since childhood, you’ve heard these sayings. Carrots help us see in the dark (thanks to beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A) while orange juice provides vitamin C to help us stay well and keep our immune systems healthy. That’s just the start of the good-for-you—and delicious—benefits from fruits and vegetables!
Fresh, frozen, canned or dried, fruits and vegetables are naturally nutritious because they offer a substantial amount of nutrients and phytonutrients without a lot of calories. Their nutrient package includes many that often come up short: potassium, folate, vitamin C and fiber. Some vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus and kale, also contribute small amounts of vitamin E—a nutrient many fall short on. Another benefit: fruits and vegetables are naturally cholesterol free and trans fat free, and most have little, if any, fat unless it’s added during preparation.
Today, science recognizes even more health benefits from the phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables. Many of these plant components, including lycopene (in tomatoes, processed tomato products and watermelon), and lutein (in dark green vegetables, eggs and grapefruit), work as antioxidants in the body. As part of healthy eating and a healthful lifestyle, they may help protect against some age-related health problems caused by oxidation. These are just some of the reasons it's a good idea to learn how to eat more fruits and vegetables.
As you learn how to eat more fruits and vegetables, how much is enough? If you eat about 2,000 calories daily, make this your goal: 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables. That’s not a lot, yet most people come up short. The total amount for a day is what really counts, not how many servings you eat. After all, portion sizes differ. As a general rule, a cup portion is: 1 cup cut-up, cooked, or canned fruits or vegetables; 1 cup 100% fruit juice; ½ cup dried fruit; or 2 cups raw leafy greens. Use these visual cues to quickly estimate amounts: 1 cup is about the size of a baseball; ½ cup is the size of a small computer mouse.
The easiest way to fit in fruits and vegetables is to keep them on hand so they’re available, visible and ready to eat when you are. Look for convenience products that take less prep and clean-up. Check the deli and salad bar if you need speed, small portions or prefer to assemble a meal with prepared items. Read on for some ways to make fruits and vegetables appealing to people of all ages and tips for eating vegetables.
Delicious and nutritious Healthy Living ideas to get more fruits and vegetables into your meals.