Fitness Facts: Eat your fruits and veggies!
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.
The American Cancer Society recommends 2½ cups daily. The fruits and veggies with the most color (dark green, red, yellow and orange) have the most nutrients and cancer-fighting ingredients.
Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet daily can significantly improve your overall health. They are low in calories, too!
Here are some suggestions from the American Cancer Society on how to add fruits and veggies throughout the day. Before you know it, you will obtain your goal!
If you usually have cereal, slice half of a large banana on top. Your morning juice counts, too. Try low-sodium, unsweetened, 100 percent fruit juice or vegetable juice.
Remember, four ounces is a half cup. For an alternative to cereal, pour half a cup of frozen berries into a cup of plain low-fat yogurt. Slice a banana on top or eat it on the run.
With more than one cup taken care of at breakfast, you’re on your way.
Snack time is a great time to work in more fruits or vegetables. A single-serving container of applesauce, five or six baby carrots or a small orange will add another half cup. It’s only the middle of your morning, and you’re more than halfway there!
When you need a quick lunch, try a pita sandwich, a wrap loaded with vegetables or a cup of hearty vegetable soup. Either of these gives you at least a half cup – some will give you a whole cup. Add a small side salad with low-fat dressing, and your count just jumped to more than two cups for the day.
Simple adds on campus can help get you to your goal: If you go to Subway, load up your sandwich with veggies. Habit Burger has a great veggie burger as an option. Even if you go to Slices, add more veggies than meat! Panda also has a mixed veggie option to eat in place of rice or noodles.
Even if you have only a few minutes, dinner veggies are easy. Heat canned or frozen veggies (without added salt or sauces) in the microwave for a quick side dish. Frozen are better than canned. Microwave a sweet potato and add a teaspoon of butter, a splash of apple juice or squeeze of lemon, and a light sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar.
Any one of these will add another cup-size vegetable serving to your day, and now you’re getting more than the minimum recommendation!
Savor a frozen treat made from 100 percent juice or put a half cup of melon slices, peaches or another favorite fruit on a toasted whole-grain waffle and you’ve added even more healthy fruits to your day. A splash of maple syrup can add extra flavor.
A few other tips from the American Cancer Society:
- At each meal, fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
- Enjoy a half cup (four ounces) of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice once or twice a day. Mix with club soda or unsweetened seltzer water if you like fizz.
- Layer lettuce, tomatoes, beans, onions, and other vegetables on sandwiches and wraps.
- Add tomato sauce and extra vegetables to pastas and vegetable soups.
- Choose a vegetarian dish when eating out.
- Challenge yourself to try new vegetables from the produce aisle, frozen foods section or your local farmers’ market.
- Keep dried fruits and vegetable juice boxes in your desk drawer and glove compartment. (But watch the sugar content!)
- Keep a bowl full of fresh veggies and fruits on your kitchen counter for quick snacking.
- If you’re short on time, look for pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables, such as baby carrots and broccoli florets, at the grocery store.
More does matter! For further suggestions on this topic and for recipe suggestions, see https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/