Good Reasons to Include More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
Fruits and vegetables are considered the healthiest foods, and so nutrition experts are saying that one’s plate should be half-filled with fruits and veggies. Sadly, about 90 percent of people in America are not eating enough fruits and vegetables per meal.
Is Eating More Veggies Really Important?
There are many reasons why it is healthier to eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. At the same time, they are low in calories. Eating more from this food group can help reduce the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
Even though most people are aware of the benefits of eating fruits and veggies, it seems that they still find it hard to eat vegetables. Instead of being a delight, it seems like a burden.
Only one of ten Americans eats the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables as set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines. The recommendation is about 2 to 6 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables, which aims to increase plant-based foods consumption.
The Health Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables
Most individuals don’t have any difficulty getting a serving of fruits and vegetables per day because it’s really not much. One serving of vegetables is only about a whole cup of raw veggies or half a cup of cooked veggies.
A serving of fruits or vegetables can give a good deal of nutritional power. Think about the great benefits to your health if you have more. The exact benefits may be different depending on what kind of fruit or vegetable you are eating. In general you get the following nutrients:
It is good for keeping the bones and teeth strong and healthy. It also helps keep the normal functionality of muscles and nerves.
It helps avoid muscle cramps, high blood pressure and enzymatic inactivity.
It helps the blood and body cells to function properly.
It is necessary maintaining the salt balance inside the body and keeping blood pressure levels normal.
It reduces the possibility of giving birth to a child with congenital problems.
The eyes and skin need this vitamin to remain healthy and fight against infection.
The body is able to heal from cuts and wounds faster and have healthy gums and teeth with the help of vitamin C.
Antioxidants and Phytonutrients
These micronutrients are often abundant in color-rich fruits and vegetables and you may not get as much of these from meat and dairy products. They are beneficial in keeping many chronic diseases at bay.
Anthocyanins are commonly found in blue and purple fruits and veggies, such as blueberries, plums, blackberries, grapes, raisins and figs. They help prevent some cancers, improve memory function and fight aging.
Luteins are present in green fruits, such as kiwi fruit, avocados, apples and pears. They can lower the risk of cancer, improve vision and strengthen the bones and teeth.
Anthocyanins and lycopene can be found in red fruits and vegetables. These micronutrients help make the heart and memory healthy and prevent some cancers.
Fiber offers many health benefits including increasing satiety thus lowering the intake of more calories from foods. Fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fiber and eating more of them can help people lose weight.
Fiber is not just for a healthy digestive system, it is also beneficial in lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels.
Helpful Tips to Having More Fruits and Vegetables Everyday
There’s no doubt that most people are convinced that eating fruits and vegetables is a must, but find it hard to include it in their day-to-day diet. Here are some creative ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Add vegetables to non-veggie recipes. For example, you can add grated carrot when baking muffins or cooking pancakes. Even if you probably won’t be able to taste the difference, you benefit from the “new” food nutritionally.
Cut fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces for snacking. Put the snacks in a tray for serving them to your family and kids.
Eat them fresh, frozen or straight from the can. You will likely get more nutrients from fresh and frozen veggies, but it is easier and cheaper to buy canned vegetables. Just remember that canned products have more sodium, so rinse the veggies before eating or look for the low-sodium version.
Photo credits: Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, CC by 2.0