According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 3.9 million worldwide deaths were linked to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption in 2017. Seven of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 American adults meet the federal fruit and vegetable recommendations. Barriers to greater consumption include high cost, limited availability and access, and perceived lack of preparation time.
Produce for Better Health Foundation has designated September as National Fruits and Vegetables Month to encourage consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables every day for improved public health.
Fruits and vegetables are a source of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, sterols, flavonoids, and other antioxidants. According to federal guidelines, it is recommended that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day as part of a healthy eating pattern.
3 Great Tips When Choosing Fruits and Vegetables
- Choose fresh produce whenever possible. Seasonal produce can save you money.
- Freeze seasonal fruit and vegetables at their peak to add them to your smoothies all year round.
- When buying canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, choose the lowest in sodium and added sugars.
10 Tips to Increase Your Fruits and Vegetable Intake
- Make half your plate veggies.
- Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pre-cut, pre-washed fresh produce can save you time.
- Snack on raw vegetables or fruits instead of chips or pretzels, such as sugar snap peas, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, bell pepper strips, and celery sticks.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking.
- Add extra vegetables to your sandwiches, wraps, and bowls.
- Mix frozen berries into baked goods and oatmeal.
- Prefer whole or cut-up fruit, rather than juice to get the benefits of fiber.
- Add pureed fruits and veggies to sauces, smoothies, soups, lasagna, etc.
- Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir-fry or soup. Then, add other foods to complement it.
- Serve fruits as dessert.
The recipe of the week comes via 40 aprons.com: Watermelon Water
- 6 cups, ripe seedless watermelon, cubed
- Water (optional)
- Place watermelon in a high-speed blender. Turn blender on medium speed and work up to high speed, until watermelon is completely smooth.
- Add water if desired. Keep in an airtight bottle for 1-2 days.
Enjoy your weekend!
Karen Alexander, MS, RDN, LD/N