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How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

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!

Fruits and Veggies: More Really Matters

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.

Getting Enough, Varying Your Choices

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.

Fruits and Vegetables Throughout Life

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.

Ideas for the Family Table: Tips for Eating Vegetables and Fruits

  • Go undercover. Mash cooked carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans and other vegetables with cooked potatoes.
  • Add to prepared, convenience foods: cut-up tomatoes to macaroni and cheese; red, green or yellow peppers to pasta sauce or chili; and any veggies or canned beans to soup.
  • Sweeten up toaster waffles, pancakes and yogurt by topping with pureed fresh, frozen or canned fruit.

Fun for Kids

  • Create a funny face salad. Serve up fruit and veggie “smiles”: banana circles, orange segments, apple and pear wedges, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, sprouts, raisins, dried cranberries and more.
  • Keep fruits and veggies prepared and available for snacking. Put a bowl of bananas on the counter, offer apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter for dipping or add dried fruit to whole grain cereal for a quick snack mix.
  • Whirl a smoothie in a blender: Blend the yogurt with cut up fresh, canned or frozen fruit.
  • Pack a snack-to-go. Fill a clear plastic cup with sliced raw veggies or a plain ice cream cone with colorful, cut-up fruits.

Sensible and Quick for One or Two

  • Assemble a fabulous salad. Toss together packaged pre-cut, pre-washed greens and veggies. Top with grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, tuna or legumes for an easy main-dish salad.
  • Flavor grilled chicken breasts or fish steaks with salsa. Try traditional tomato-based choices or fruit options made with mango, pineapple or peaches.

Easy and Flavorful for Older Adults

  • Thicken soups and stews (without adding fat). Puree cooked or canned beans, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and mix them in. As a quick and easy alternative to pureeing, stir in a jar of baby food vegetables.
  • Make over your omelet. Fill an omelet for one or two with sliced asparagus, bell pepper, green beans, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes or zucchini.
  • A quick dessert, top frozen yogurt or angel food cake with your favorite sliced fruit or berries.

Delicious and nutritious Healthy Living ideas to get more fruits and vegetables into your meals.

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