September and the beginning of a new school year seems like an appropriate time for Fruits & Veggies — More Matters™ Month.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has joined with public and private organizations to remind consumers that fruits and vegetables promote better health. It is estimated that ninety percent of Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. We can do better than that!
Benefits of Fruits and Veggies
- Fruits and vegetables are important to overall health, adding essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. People who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthy diet tend to have lower rates of diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
- Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
- Consuming fruits and veggies satisfies hunger and helps stave off those cravings for empty calories.
- There’s nothing quite like biting into a fresh, crisp piece of fruit or a grilled, lightly seasoned vegetable. You just can’t beat it!
- With fruits and veggies as part of your daily meal plan, you will have increased energy. Seriously, you’ll feel a whole lot better.
- The National Fruit & Vegetable Program says that all fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables and 100 percent juice products are acceptable — as long as you make sure there are no added sugars, syrups, salt, butter, or cream sauces.
Recommended Daily Dose
We’re all different and so are our dietary needs, depending on our health status, age, and other factors. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a range from two to six and one-half cups per day. There’s no need to stress out about amounts or make things more complicated than they need to be; simply making fruits and vegetables the focal point of every meal will help you meet your recommended amount each day.
Dietary Supplements and Fortified Food
There are many fortified foods and dietary supplements on the market that can help, but nothing gives the full benefits like fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if you do take supplements, it is still recommended that you meet your nutritional needs primarily through foods.
Next: How to Get the Kiddies into Fruits and Veggies
How to Get the Kiddies into Fruits and Veggies
- Make fruits and veggies part of their diet right from the start.
- Make sure they observe you and other adult role models eating fruits and veggies.
- Get the kids involved in choosing fruits and veggies at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Talk about how and where they are grown. Encourage them to choose some they’ve never tried before.
- Get them involved in the planning and preparing of meals. They might get a kick out of snapping a green bean or two, or tearing up lettuce for salad.
- Start a small vegetable garden and let them help you tend the plants. If that is not possible, a few seeds in containers can help give them the idea. They’ll want to eat things they’ve helped to nurture.
- When preparing school lunches, make sure you include some cut up veggies or fresh fruit. It makes a terrific mid-day snack or meal.
- Take the pledge! Learn how fruits and veggies can play a bigger role in your community and your family. Visit: Join America’s More Matters Pledge to Fight Obesity and choose your fruit and veggie pledge. The family that pledges together… will be healthier and happier.
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo