The standard American diet lacks two major food groups: fruits and vegetables. The World Health Organization recommends eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily to achieve overall good health. Spreading those servings across meals throughout the day doesn't sound too daunting, but sadly, the average American continues to struggle to meet this daily goal.
There are many tips and tricks to get more fruits and vegetables in your meals, but it all starts with understanding the benefits of eating these foods. And no, unfortunately, potatoes do not count!
Vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients, meaning that you get more bang for your buck in nutritional value. By eating larger volumes of food with lower caloric values, you can increase your vegetable intake. And due to the fiber and water packed into these foods, they will help keep you full! Additionally, veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote a healthy body.
You can get plenty of Vitamin C, folate, and potassium from many vegetables, as well as fruits. While fruits have higher carbohydrates and sugar contents than vegetables do, their fiber content helps decrease the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstreams. Eating non-processed foods like fruits and vegetables can help support a healthy immune system, a healthy weight, and a healthy body overall.
Don’t be too quick to reach for the fruit cups and fruit snacks though! It is important to select the right types of fruits and vegetables. Convenience foods can seem ideal for on-the-go but many convenient food and vegetable products like fruit leathers and syrupy fruit cups are loaded with sugar, sodium, and chemicals. Here are some tips to help navigate grocery stores and select only the highest qualities of fruits and vegetables:
So now that you know where to find the best fruits and vegetables for your health, let’s work on getting these foods into your diet. Fruits and vegetables are not just for lunch and dinner; they are perfect for breakfast too! Here are some tips for adding more fruits and vegetables into all of your meals:
Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet can be simple. So how much should you be eating? Each day, you need five servings, preferably two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables. Here is a breakdown of what counts as a single serving:
One Serving of Fruit =
One Serving of Vegetables =
Below are a few photos to help show what a daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables should look like:
Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet not only promotes a healthy body, but also helps decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases when paired with a healthy lifestyle. So get your five servings of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you stay strong and healthy every day!