All national health organizations recommend eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day to promote good health and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Fruits and veggies contribute to good health because they contain vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and other essential nutrients. Most are low in fat and calories, are high in fiber, and contain no cholesterol. As an added bonus, choosing fruits and vegetables in place of high-fat foods as part of a healthy diet, may make it easier to control your weight.
Getting your five to nine servings of fruits and veggies a day is easy if you have a plan. The simplest way is to eat at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. The following are some guidelines about what counts as a serving:
• 1 medium-sized piece of fruit
• 1/2 cup cut-up fresh fruit or fruit canned in its own juice
• 3/4 cup 100 percent fruit juice or vegetable juice
• 1/4 cup dried fruit
• 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or salad
• 1/2 cup cooked or canned vegetables
• 1/2 cup cooked or canned beans, peas, or lentils
As you can see, serving sizes are actually quite small, so getting your minimum daily servings should be a snap!
Below are some additional tips to help you save time and money while you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
• Choose fruits and veggies that require little peeling or chopping, such as baby carrots, grapes or cherry tomatoes
• Prepare extra vegetables and freeze leftovers for future meals
• Choose pre-packaged salads for a quick meal
• Purchase fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables when they are generally less expensive
• Purchase frozen, canned or dried varieties that keep longer
• Shop local farmer's markets or visit local farms to pick your own fresh produce
Adding new fruits and vegetables to your meals can be a fun way to add variety to your diet. Fruits and vegetables come in terrific colors and flavors, so put a rainbow on your plate every day. For more nutrition tips, contact the LaRue County Health Department at 358-3844.
Information submitted by Melissa D. Phillips, Community Health Educator, Meade County Health Department