Your mom gave good advice when she told you to eat your fruits and vegetables. The importance of produce is something you never outgrow. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies can lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. But get this - only one in seven adults get the recommended dose of veggies each day. One in seven!! That’s why the Produce for Better Health Foundation are introducing Fruits and Veggies-More Matters Month™. The recommendation is 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. This may sound daunting, but fear not! Serving sizes are much smaller than you might think:
Fruits (1 serving)
1 small fresh fruit (4 oz)
½ cup unsweetened canned fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fruit juice
1-cup cantaloupe or honeydew melon
2 Tbsp. raisins
Vegetables (1 serving)
1 cup raw vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms
½ cup cooked vegetables
½ cup tomato juice
½ cup cooked beans, peas, corn, sweet potato, yam, winter squash, or mashed or boiled potatoes
¼ large baked potato with skin
Another great visual is the plate method. Make half of your plate fruit and veggies.
Here are some other tips to ensure you are getting enough fruits and veggies:
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Add fresh fruit to yogurt or oatmeal
- Try a smoothie
- Add berries to whole grain toast or whole grain waffles with nut butter (like peanut or almond)
- Variety matters
- Hit up your local farmers market to check out local produce. This can break your regular fruit consumption of just apples and bananas.
- All colors are good for you. Think white in cauliflower, red in bell peppers, green in spinach, and orange in carrots. These colors, phytochemicals, have a plethora of health benefits!
- Don’t neglect your sandwich
- Load up on veggies at lunch. If you are making a sandwich, wrap or burger, add on the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, kale, spinach, lettuce, etc. It’s an easy way to sneak in an additional serving
- Got picky eaters? Get out that blender!
- Picky eaters come in all ages and sizes. Add some extra veg to your tomato sauce by adding blended carrots, mushrooms, zucchinis and onions. Sometimes even a fine dice works! You can add your upgraded marinara sauce to whole grain pastas, on top of lean meats like chicken or make your own pizza on whole-wheat crust!
- Canned and frozen are just fine
- When buying canned fruits, looked for fruits packed in water instead of syrup.
- When cooking with canned vegetables, rinse veggies under running water to rid them of excess sodium.
- When buying frozen veggies, skip on products in a “sauce”.
- Dried fruits are great too! Since they are naturally higher in sugar, just be mindful of your serving size.
Want to try some new fruits and veggies? Get inspired while summer produce is still in season. Read Caroline’s blog on unusual summer produce here.