Getting Your Fruits and Vegetables
Many dietitians suggest that consumers begin their grocery shopping trip by walking around the perimeter aisles of the store. Why the perimeter you ask? That is where the nutrient dense, color rich foods reside; the fruits and vegetables.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 32.6% of adults eat fruit two or more times daily, and 27.2% eat vegetables the recommended three or more times a day. Conversely, the goals delineated by the United States Department of Agriculture in Healthy People 2010, state that 75% of Americans should be eating fruit two or more times a day and 50% of Americans should be eating vegetables three or more times per day by the year 2010.
Clearly, Americans are not hitting this target whether it is due to the lack of availability, convenience, or appeal. Below are some tips on how to sneak some extra fruits and vegetables into your diet.
To ease the financial strain of getting in the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, try choosing those fruits and vegetables that are in season. Fruits and vegetables tend to be the most reasonably priced, and taste the best, during their prime growing time.
In June, apricots, cantaloupe, cherries, honeydew, and mango are the fruits in season, while bell peppers, corn, cucumber, green beans, and green peas are the freshest vegetables available. In July, try blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, nectarines, and watermelon for fruits. Choose beets, bell peppers, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes as your veggies.
Look for grapes, honeydew, nectarines, peaches, and plums in August, and corn, bell peppers, spinach, tomato, and zucchini. Shopping at local farmers markets is a great way to support local farmers. The produce is usually fresher and easier on the pocketbook.
Getting your servings of fruits and vegetables can be easy if you sneak them into foods that you already eat. Some ways to incorporate them into your diet are to slice a banana and/or berries into a bowl of cereal, add some veggies to your sandwich, eat fruit with plain yogurt, slice up vegetables and stir fry them with chicken or tofu, drink low sodium tomato/vegetable juices, make a soup using lots of veggies, or choose fruit salad as a dessert. Fruit smoothies are also a great way to drink your fruit servings. However, be mindful of the serving size and ingredients, as they may be higher in calories than anticipated and also lower in fiber which may not be as satisfying.
Consuming the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables will help you to receive the necessary vitamins and minerals for immune system health and antioxidant intake. At the end of the day, think about the foods youve eaten and what colors they are. Try to eat the colors of the rainbow! The more variety of colors in your fruits and vegetables, the greater variety of vitamins and minerals youve consumed. Many people find that eating more veggies and fruits gives them more energy, better skin, fewer illnesses, improved regularity, and weight management.
So, lets make the commitment to a combination of five veggies and fruits a day for better health. Cheers to a summer filled with veggies and fruits.