You probably know it’s important to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Do you know why?
- Eating fruits and vegetables helps reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke and protects against certain types of cancers
- Dietary fibers from fruits and vegetables help reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium, fat and calories and provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories
So how much should you eat? Experts recommend filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. You’re not alone if this comes as a surprise – most Americans aren’t getting the recommended 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables (9 servings every day.)
September is Fruit & Veggies – More Matters Month. We’ve got 9 ways to promote eating 9 servings every day:
1. Boost your breakfast: Start the day off right by adding fruit and vegetables to your breakfast. Some favorites include topping oatmeal, cereal or yogurt with berries or sliced bananas, mashing up avocado over toast and rolling up sautéed vegetables in a breakfast burrito.
2. Snack on a smoothie: No two smoothies are the same. Mix up a fruit smoothie with frozen berries or try including veggies – we love carrot, orange, mango smoothies! Tip: add spinach to any smoothie to get in your greens (don’t worry you won’t taste it).
3. Switch up your pizza: Skip the pepperoni and pile on spinach, mushrooms and peppers instead!
4. Pack it in: Layer vegetables in your sandwiches – try a combination of tomatoes, avocado, bell peppers and cucumbers.
5. Veg (and fruit) out: Cut up veggies for the week in advance. Store them in easy to grab containers for convenient snacking. The same can be done with fruit. Easy to munch on fruits and veggies include carrots, cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, grapes, oranges, apples and berries.
6. Grill it up: Grilling isn’t just for meat! Grilling fruits and vegetables brings out their natural flavor and makes them sweeter. Try grilling watermelon, pineapple and peaches. And for the veggies, try grilling asparagus, zucchini and eggplant.
7. Bag the bread: Sandwiches are a great way to pack in those veggies but next time ditch the bread and wrap it in lettuce.
8. Make it dessert: Fruit-based dessert shouldn’t be skipped! Naturally sweet and refreshing, fruit can stand-alone but can also be played up while still staying light and healthy. Try dipping strawberries in brown sugar, sprinkling cinnamon over apples or freezing dark chocolate covered bananas.
9. Wok it out: Bust out your wok and cook up a vegetable stir-fry. Veggies to pick from include sugar snap peas, mini corn, bell peppers, broccoli, baby bok choy and onion – enjoy!