All of the moms and dads out there know that it can be tough to encourage children to eat healthy, but adults are often just as guilty of skimping on fruits and veggies! The USDA’s current dietary guidelines, known as MyPlate, recommends filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables during meals. The actual measured amount of fruits and vegetables that you should consume each day depends on your age, sex and level of activity. You can see the USDA’s recommended total amounts of fruits here and vegetables here.
Why Fruits and Veggies Matter
Fruits and vegetables are generally low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Research has found that they can help lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and different types of cancer. A diet rich in fruits and veggies can also help control blood pressure and contribute to weight loss or healthy weight maintenance.
Easy Ways to Include More Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet
Many people do not eat enough fruits and veggies. Here are some tips on how to include more of them in your daily diet:
- Make fruits and veggies more convenient. It’s easy to turn to packaged foods because they are easy to grab and eat! If you’re always on the run, keep pre-washed fruits and veggies handy. Store them in single-serve containers in your fridge or keep a basket of fruits that don't require refrigeration on your kitchen counter.
- Add variety. If you get tired of eating apples and bananas, try mangoes or pineapples!
- Drink them. Thirsty? Drink a glass of 100 percent pure fruit or vegetable juice, an easy way to add fruits and veggies to your diet. Just be sure you don’t go overboard—many fruit juices are high in calories and sugar and many vegetable juices have added sodium.
- Use dip. High-calorie, high-fat dips and dressings should be used in moderation, but dipping your fruits and veggies might make them more appealing. In addition to the more traditional ranch and blue cheese varieties, hummus, low-fat yogurt and salsa are also good dips. Chocolate and peanut butter taste great on fruits, too!
- Spice things up. Prepare veggies with spices, olive oil or vinegar to add flavor.
- Purchase pre-made fruit salads and pre-cut veggies. You will pay a price for the convenience, but most supermarkets offer prepared fruits and vegetables in the produce section.
- Eat fruit for dessert. Teach your kids that cookies and cakes aren’t the only sweet treats in the kitchen! Enjoy fresh fruit for dessert or incorporate it into another dish, such as low-fat angel food cake topped with strawberries.
Want more advice about improving your diet? The nurses at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point’s free Consult-A-Nurse® service can answer basic healthcare questions, help you find you a doctor and schedule you an appointment. Just call 1-888-741-5119. You may also be interested in our Recipes Archive, where you can find hundreds of healthy recipes online.