By Marijune Feick, RD,LD, CNSD
Mom was right when she said to eat your fruits and vegetables. We all know they are “good” for us, but most of us don’t eat enough because we either don’t like them or take the time to include them in our diets. Of course they provide necessary vitamins and minerals, but they also provide substances that your body needs that aren’t found in vitamin pills. They provide fiber and antioxidants that “just say no” to chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Most people need about 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruits a day. That may sound like a lot, but check out what a serving size is and you may realize you eat more than you thought. For example, 6-7 baby carrots are considered a serving of vegetables and 17 grapes is considered a serving of fruit. Here are some easy ways to eat more fruits and vegetables every day:
- Top your cold cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or pancakes with banana or berries.
- Add green pepper, broccoli, spinach or mushrooms to your scrambled eggs or egg white omelet.
- Encourage your children to choose their own favorite fresh fruit when shopping.
- Make a fruit smoothie with low fat milk, banana and frozen strawberries.
- Instead of French Fries when eating out ask for a green side salad, steamed vegetables or corn on the cob.
- Besides lettuce, add green pepper, onion, cucumbers or tomato to a sandwich.
- Add vegetable toppings to pizza.
- Stock your desk or lunch box with mini boxes of raisins, dried cranberries or apricots, or single-serve canned fruit.
- Add mandarin oranges or sliced apples to your tossed green salad.
Visit MyPyramid.gov to find more information on healthy eating and calculate your fruit and vegetable recommendations based on your age, sex and activity level.