Eat your Fruits and Vegetables!
By: Kimberly Stein, RD, CDN
“Eat your fruits and vegetables” is the age-old saying we have repeatedly heard. We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but, what do they really do? There is tons of evidence that shows those who have an increased intake of fruits and veggies are less likely to develop chronic diseases. The current 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest having 2 – 2 ½ cups of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. Having a colorful array added into your day will bump up your vitamin, mineral, and fiber intake! Not only are fruits and veggies chock full of nutrients, but they are super low in calories—talk about guilt-free snacking!! June marks the beginning of National Fruit & Vegetable Month so it is a perfect time to start taking advantage of summer’s bounty!
Many people are concerned regarding the difference between organic versus non-organic fruits and vegetables. To date, there is no conclusive evidence that suggests organic is healthier or more nutritious. The true definition of organic per the USDA is that which use renewable resources and grown without the use of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, fertilizers or other synthetic methods. To guarantee something is 100% organic, the USDA needs to have its seal of approval label on the product. Keep in mind; organic foods are more expensive so it is truly up to your personal preferences!
So, how exactly can you bulk up your intake with fruits and vegetables this month? Try some of these ideas to jump-start your creativity!
1. It’s BBQ season! Fire up the grill for your favorite vegetables as well as fruits! Try grilling peaches, pineapples or bananas for a super sweet treat.
2. Add extra vegetables to your favorite casserole, stir-fry, or dinner entrée. The more the merrier and these low-cal sides will keep you feeling full.
3. Be creative with your salads. Toss in some sliced strawberries or fresh berries for a satisfying taste treat.
4. Having an omelet for breakfast? Add in some extra veggies or try some new combos. Are you a daily cereal/oatmeal lover? Fresh berries will be a great addition to this meal!
5. Choose sweet fruits for your snacks and desserts. Fruit is full of its own sugars making it nature’s natural candy. Having a sweet treat that is full of vitamins and fiber is doubling the nutritional bang for your buck.
Summer is the perfect season to take advantage of your local farmer’s markets. Choosing locally grown produce reduces the carbon footprint your food has to travel making it an economically and environmentally better choice!