Most Americans are aware the eating fruits and vegetables is part of healthy diet. Aside from being naturally low in fat and calories, they are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A and C. The dietary fiber is especially important because this reduces blood cholesterol levels and can help lower risk of heart disease. However, studies show that half of Americans consumed less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily.
The average individual should be consuming 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables daily. One cup of fruit would be about 1 small apple, 1 large banana, 7 large berries for fruit. For vegetables one cup would be, 2 asparagus spears, 2 medium carrots, or 10 green beans. For those who might need more guidance, the USDA MyPlate is a great reference to follow. In general, fruits and vegetables should consist of half of your plate. And also remember that all product forms are counted such as fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% fruit and vegetable juices.
There are many reasons contributing to why this may be and may include the belief that fresh produce is too expensive, also the availability for buying such might be limited. Also, many do not think that they enjoy the taste of vegetables especially.
There are many ways to save money purchasing, and the number one is buying in season. This means that purchasing fruits such as cherries, strawberries, and peaches, as well as vegetables such as beets, broccoli, and cauliflower, during the summer, will be less expensive than purchasing in the fall and winter. The secret is to also enjoy local produce from the market and cut out the cost of importing foods from other countries. Another tip on saving money on produce is to store everything correctly. Never wash produce until you are ready to consume. This will prevent the moisture from formulating bacteria and having your fruits and vegetables spoil faster.
As for those who think that they do not enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables, there are many ways to sneak them into your diet.
Add them to sandwiches – Toss in some sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, and or sliced apple for an extra crunch and added health benefits such as vitamins and fiber.
Change up your breakfast – Add in mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and/or tomato to your omelet or scrambled eggs for not only some added nutrients but also some added flavor. Adding spinach is also a great way to get in some extra greens that will not also alter the taste of the dish. Try to make a fruit smoothie with strawberries, raspberries, peaches, and don’t forget to throw in some yogurt for added protein.
Make a stir fry – Stir frying vegetables is a quick way to add in nutritional value and also makes for a quick meal. Throw in your choice of protein and some whole grain such as brown rice for a complete meal.
In conclusion, always try to buy fresh produce in season. If you cannot buy fresh, go with frozen vegetables which have just as good nutritional value and are quick and easy to prepare. Try to vary your choices and get in the daily serving amount by adding them to different food dishes throughout the day. You can also save money by storing your produce correctly and not washing before you are ready to use.