Fruits and Veggies Matter
Recently, we talked about childhood obesity awareness, and everyone is well aware of the difficulties and illnesses associated with this condition. To coincide with the focus on obesity awareness, we also want to highlight the fact that September is Fruits & Veggies — More Matters Month. A healthy, balanced diet is not only important for children’s health, but for everyone’s.
Healthy Eating Stats
We know we are supposed to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. But many of us don’t maintain those standards. According to the CDC, only about one in every ten Americans regularly eats enough fruits and veggies. Only 13 percent of us are eating the 1.5-2 cups of fruit, and less than 9 percent are eating the 2-3 cups of vegetables per day that are recommended by federal guidelines. If we look at California specifically, our state has the best consumption rate for these foods. This is great, right? Well, not really. Even with our high ranking, only 18 percent of Californians are eating enough fruit daily, and only 13 percent are consuming enough vegetables. So how do we change these numbers?
Eating What We Should
First off, it’s important to understand what the actual recommended guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption are. What do 2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit look like on a given day?
One cup of fruit is:
- A small apple
- A large banana
- 8 large strawberries
- ½ cup of any dried fruit (raisins, apricots, prunes, etc.)
One cup of vegetables is:
- 12 baby carrots
- A large sweet potato
- 1 cup cooked or 2 cups of raw greens (kale, collards, salad greens, and other leafy vegetables)
- An actual cup of vegetables like green peas, corn, etc.
Once you understand what you need to eat, it’s not that difficult to factor the necessary fruits and veggies in during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. Here are some easy ways to bring more healthy food to your table!
1. Make little changes
If you usually keep chips around for a snack, switch them out for something else crunchy like baby carrot sticks or celery. These vegetables are also dippable, so they make a great substitute for those higher fat foods without sacrificing the crunch. Just don’t go overboard on your dip!
2.Fruits and vegetables come in many forms
Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried are just a few of the convenient forms of fruits and vegetables. When you are busy, it’s hard to remember to buy and prepare fresh vegetables all the time. Ready-to-steam options like broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini are easy to cook and make a great side dish for dinner.
3. Variety is the spice of life
There are infinite ways to add variety to your meals with fruits and vegetables! California is the perfect state for a wide variety of delicious fruits and vegetables. Mangosteens, Meyer lemons, or Manioc, anyone?
4. Shop local
Visit your local farmer’s markets and support local agriculture. Visit this website to find a farmer’s market near you.
The reason is simple: because your health matters, and the health of your family matters. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and various forms of cancer. They provide essential nutrients, such as calcium, folate, iron, fiber, and potassium. Vitamin A and vitamin C are also abundant in fruits and vegetables, helping to protect against infections, heal abrasions, and maintain healthy gums. For more information about Fruits & Veggies—More Matters Month, visit: https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
More Matters. (n.d.). Key nutrients in fruits and vegetables. More Matters Fruits and Veggies. Retrieved from https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/key-nutrients-in-fruits-and-vegetables
United State National Library of Medicine. (2015, July 9). Only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruits and veggies: CDC. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_153500.html
USDA. (n.d.). What counts as a cup of fruit? ChooseMyPlate. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit
USDA. (n.d.). What counts as a cup of vegetables? ChooseMyPlate. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables