Many of you have probably heard things like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, “Eat your vegetables!”, and “You are what you eat”. But you may still be wondering why it’s so important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds in plants such as fruits and vegetables that contribute to their color, taste and smell and are beneficial to health. Many phytochemicals act as antioxidants, meaning that they prevent damage to cells from highly reactive unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can lead to cell damage which has been linked to a number of chronic diseases. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of some diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
Since no single fruit or vegetable contains all of the nutrients your body needs, it is important to eat a variety of them. In addition, fruits and vegetables add color, flavor and texture to your meals. Plus fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat and help fill you up, making them a good addition to your dietary patterns. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that active adults eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables each day. This is quite a bit of fruits and vegetables! Rather than measuring out your fruits and vegetables, aiming for having half of your plate contain fruits and vegetables (for both meals and snacks) will help you meet this recommended daily amount.
Not sure how to eat this much fruits and veggies? Need some new ideas for what to do with fruits and veggies?
Here are some tips to add more fruits and vegetables to every meal/snack:
Information compiled from:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025
Harvard School of Public Health
Produce for Better Health Foundation