Top Reasons to Eat More Fruits and Veggies
By Melody Foster
Did you know the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines recommend you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables? How are you doing?
If you aren’t getting the right amount of fruits and veggies in your diet, you’re not alone. More than 90 percent of adults and children in America do not eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the USDA. The most recent Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day.
It doesn’t matter how or where you get them — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice — all forms of fruits and vegetables contain healthy nutrients your body needs.
September is Fruits & Veggies — More Matters Month. There are plenty of reasons to boost your intake of healthy, nutrient-dense products, in September and all year ‘round.
Fruits and veggies contain fewer calories, so the more you eat, the more you fill your body with the nutrients that help your body function, keep your heart healthy and help combat obesity. And when you’re full on the “good stuff,” you’ll be less likely to fill up on the “bad stuff.” Here are some other reasons why you should eat more fruits and vegetables:
Fiber — Fiber is a vital nutrient for heart and digestive health, as well as weight management, but most of us aren’t getting enough. Along with whole grains, fruits and veggies are the best sources of fiber.
Vitamins and minerals — Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of essential nutrients such as vitamins A and C, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Antioxidants — Fruits and veggies contain phytonutrients, which are known to play a role in disease prevention and overall health.
Healthy sweets — Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy it with naturally sweet fruit rather than sugar-loaded, high-calorie, high-fat processed desserts like baked goods, ice cream, candy and soda.
Eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, when you consider cost-per nutrients, fruits and veggies are more budget-friendly than processed foods that lack essential nutrients. Buy in-season produce and keep stocked up on canned-goods so you’ll always have a healthier option available at home.
Better yet, plant your own garden! Backyard gardening isn’t as hard as you might think and can help you make better choices about what you eat, ensuring you always have a healthy option available. When you grow your own garden, you control what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides are used on your food. Your homegrown produce may be even healthier than some store-bought vegetables, as veggies that are allowed to ripen in the garden often contain more nutrients than those that must be picked early and shipped to the stores.
Ready to plant your own garden? Start small and plant vegetables you’d like to eat. Choose a spot in your yard that gets at least six hours of daytime light and has access to water. Consider a raised garden, which allows you to have control over the soil and nutrient blend (and it Texas, you may find your veggies grow even better in a raised bed than in natural soil).
Not only will planting your own vegetable garden help you eat more healthy foods; gardening is also good exercise and an excellent stress reliever. As an added bonus, growing some of your own food can help cut down your grocery bill, whether you have a big family or are just feeding yourself.
About the Author
Melody Foster is a Dallas-based freelance writer and contributing author to the Nicholson Clinic blog. Melody researches and creates content for clients in industries ranging from health care, fitness and nutrition to interior decorating, legal and social good.