“Eat more fruits and vegetables.”
How many times have we heard that?
Nothing nourishes your body more than these delicious gifts from nature.
Fruits and vegetables are really the cornerstones of any healthful diet.
Which is why we are so excited to celebrate National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, which occurs each year in June.
Why Are Fruits and Veggies so Good for You?
Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies help neutralize free radicals in the body that may form spontaneously or as a result of diet, exercise, stress, inflammation, drugs, or exposure to heat, sunlight and air pollutants.
Studies show a 50 percent lower risk of cancer with high (vs. low) intake of vegetables and fruit. An inverse association between consumption of fruit and vegetable and cardiovascular disease has also been shown. In fact, people who consume nine or more servings per day are 40 percent less likely to experience a cardiovascular event compared to those consuming less than 5 servings per day.
How Much Do You Really Need?
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most of us eat far fewer fruits and vegetables than we should.
In fact, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state we should be eating between 5 and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
This amounts to about 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups daily, and your intake should be divided relatively evenly between fruits and vegetables.
What is in a portion?
A serving is smaller than you might think. Here are some examples:
- 1 small banana
- 1/2 medium orange
- 1/2 medium apple
- 4-5 medium Brussels Sprouts
- 1/2 cup green beans
How to Incorporate More Fruits and Veggies Into Your Diet
If eating 5 to 13 servings per day sound a bit daunting to you, here are five of the most important things to think about when it comes to integrating more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Add Berries to Your Breakfast: If you are going to eat a bowl of oatmeal, muesli or whole grain cereal, why not add some fruit into the mix?
- Keep Raw Fruits and Veggies on Hand: When you are in the mood for a snack, reach for sliced apples or cucumber, carrot sticks or a cup of fruit instead of those potato chips.
- Eat the Rainbow: Once you have gotten used to adding veggies and fruit to your diet, focus on consuming a variety of colors to ensure you get the maximum boost in nutrients and vitamins. And follow these 7 tips to boost your veggie consumption.
- Prepare for Travel: If you are on the road a lot, take a look at some of the tips from our blog post How to Mix Travel With Plant-Based Eating.
- Simplify Organic: If you are concerned about whether or not you should eat organic, read our article The Straight Truth About Organic. In it we explain why you should not necessarily obsess about eating organic. If organic products are not readily available, it is better to eat non-organic fruits and veggies than none at all.
How to Celebrate During National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month
Start National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month out by incorporating one or more of the tips above into your daily routine.
You can also think about new ways to prepare your fruit and veggies.
To help you, here is Chef Daniel Biron’s veggie-packed recipe for Asian Salad.
I guarantee you will love it and will continue to make it well after National Fruits and Veggies Month is over.
Now, as they say, ‘go eat your fruits and veggies!’