When you think about it, the food we are consuming is becoming farther and farther away from nature. Most grocery shelves are filled up with processed foods that contain lots of preservatives and additives that we don’t even know. Start by having a diet more in line with nature – more fruits and vegetables!
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet and the different variety is just as important as the quantity. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that keep us all healthy and protect us against certain diseases. You won’t find a better source of nutrition than fruits and vegetables. They are packed with different vitamins and minerals such as:
The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings
every day. An average adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for 4.5 cups of fruits and
vegetables a day. Also, variety matters, so try a wide range of fruits and veggies.
There are at least nine different types of families of fruits and vegetables that exist. Each family has potentially hundreds of different plant compounds that are beneficial to our health. Eating a variety of colors and types of produce can give our body different mixes of nutrients that it needs to reach optimal health. This not only ensures that we’re getting a greater diversity in beneficial plant-chemicals but can also create colorful, eye-appealing meals.
As said earlier, there are a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, each with their own unique and interesting flavors allowing us to have fun in the kitchen. Strong flavors such as onion, olives and peppers or milder options like mushrooms and corn can bring joy to your face.
Why should we eat more fruits and veggies?
- Fruits and Vegetables Offer Lots and Lots of Fiber → Most fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber to fill you up and boost gut health, but some have more than others. Fiber-rich vegetables include artichokes, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower. High-fiber fruits include raspberries, pears, apples and pumpkin.
- They are GREAT Low-Calorie and Low-Fat Options → On average, fruits and especially vegetables are very low in calories and fat, which means you can eat more to keep you feeling full without worrying about extra calories or fat. You can save more than 200 calories by eating half a cup of grapes versus a fourth of a cup of M&Ms. That said, there are exceptions, such as avocados, olives and coconuts.
- Low in Sodium and Cholesterol → Fresh fruits and veggies contain only trace amounts of sodium. Many people think that celery is high in sodium, but in fact, one stalk contains a mere 30mg, which contributes 1 percent to the recommended daily value. Cholesterol doesn’t exist in fruits and veggies at all.
- Fruits and vegetables help you maintain good health → Because they’re low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced diet that can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. Plus, they can help you decrease inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Fresh, frozen, canned, dried – they’re ALL nutritious → While eating fresh fruits and vegetables may be your preference, there’s not much difference from a nutrition standpoint when you compare frozen, canned or dehydrated products. In fact, most frozen and canned products are processed within hours of harvest, so the nutritional value is locked in quickly.
- Convenient, quick and easy. → Unlike granola bars or crackers, many fruits and vegetables don’t need any packaging. So you can easily grab a banana or an apple as you’re heading out the door.
- Protect against cancer and other diseases → Many vegetables and fruits contain phytochemicals, which are biologically active substances that can help protect against some diseases. That means you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer by adding them into your diet. Specifically cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, collards and watercress, have been linked to reducing cancer risks.
- Finally… Smoothies! → If you have a blender, all you need is fruit and ice to whip up a delicious smoothie using all of your favorite flavors. And here’s a tip – when you make a fruit smoothie, feel free to throw in as much fresh spinach as you like. Spinach doesn’t start to taste like “spinach” until you cook it. Even kids can’t tell the difference!
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check. Enjoying fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your health and actually enjoy what you eat. While it may take a little creativity, effort and an open mind to try new things, incorporating more fruits and veggies into your eating pattern is definitely worth it.