You’ve heard it countless times before, “Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables!” Even though mom and dad are always right to tell you this, there is no need to fret. There are many tasty, in-season, and easy to prep fruits and vegetables to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Fruits and vegetables have many nutritional benefits. They contain antioxidants, such as lycopene found in tomatoes, which can help in cancer prevention. They also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that can aid in fighting germs and disease you may come in contact with on a daily basis. Additionally, reducing blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease as well as improving gastrointestinal (GI) health and vision are additional benefits just by increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption by one serving each day. There is even preliminary research showing that an increase in certain fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Some individuals may try and get all of their micronutrients by simply taking a multivitamin. I caution against this mindset for many reasons. First of all, the best way to absorb vitamins and minerals is in the most natural state, such as how it is found in fresh produce. Secondly, there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to supplements. Vitamins that claim to have 200% of vitamin A is not necessarily healthy and can be damaging on internal organs (i.e. kidneys and liver).
There are many delicious and nutritious ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables. Toss some veggies in olive oil and garlic, wrap in foil, and throw on the grill (get creative with fruits on the grill too)! Add fruit to yogurt, make a smoothie, or encourage your kids to participate with making fruit kabobs (they will love helping and picking out their favorites)! For ease, always have fruit in sight and wash, cut, and store fresh vegetables right away when getting home from the grocery store. Having these easy, go-to snacks will be a hit.
If you visit the MyPlate® website, it will tell you, on average, the adult male or female should consume 1.5 to 2 cups per day of fruits and vegetables. If that seems overwhelming, simply try to increase your intake by 1 serving of each per day. Set goals that are attainable. Examples may be as followed:
- I will purchase and try one new fruit this week.
- I will wash and cut my vegetables on Monday to have ready for a healthy snack throughout the rest of the week.
- I will add spinach to one recipe this week.
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables based on when they are in season. Finding and buying produce in-season can help reduce cost and dramatically increase flavor. However, any fruit or vegetable is acceptable. Try fresh, but also don’t hesitate to purchase frozen, dried, or canned. Aim for fruit in its’ own juice or water. Buy canned and frozen vegetables without any added sauces and reduced sodium. Drain and rinse canned produce to reduce sodium and sugar by at least 50%.