Photo: Fresh Vegetables and Mushrooms

by Manjari Fergusson

This month is “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters” Month, bringing attention to the importance of having plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet. As you have probably heard over and over again, there is a plethora of benefits to eating fruits and veggies, including reducing the risk for childhood obesity, which we talk about in this month’s feature. In addition to helping prevent obesity, fruits and vegetables lower the risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.i

Vegetables are low in calories, so you can eat a lot without needing to worry about portions, so long as they are not cooked with high-calorie sauces and oils. Fruits are also low in calories and can be eaten often. This means they are a great snack option; try reaching for an apple or carrots instead of a bag of chips.

They’re also great at making you feel full due to their high fiber content, which lessens the feeling of hunger between meals. And you’ll eat less at your next meal; raw veggies require more chewing, resulting in the need to eat more slowly and therefore eat less.

Fruits and veggies replace “empty calorie” junk food, providing much more nutrition for the same amount of calories. Chips and candy may seem appealing when you’re hungry, but they won’t fill you up or provide you with any nutrition, unlike fruits or vegetables.

Not only that, but they give you an energy boost, with the added benefit of helping you out in the exercise department!

One rule of thumb to help add fruits and veggies to your diet is to always have half your plate filled with them during every meal or snack, and add extra to recipes that call for them. They also make great side dishes, and are easy to prepare steamed.ii

Fruit can effortlessly be added to your morning cereal, resulting in a sweeter meal but without the empty calories and undesired health effects of adding regular sugar. Oatmeal with fruit such as banana or apple is delicious, and a sprinkle of nuts will add extra protein and flavor.

Fruit added to pancakes is also a great option; try berries, bananas, or mangoes. You can even prepare them the night before and simply heat them up in a toaster if you don’t have time in the morning.

Sandwiches are a great way to get in your daily veggies; try adding more to your sandwich, while using less cheese. You could also add bananas to a plain peanut butter sandwich.

Always have a salad to go with your meal, and make that the biggest portion of whatever you’re eating. When making pasta, add lots of veggies to the sauce such as mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, onion, garlic, and basil.

With just a bit of imagination, adding more veggies and fruits to your diet isn’t that hard, and you’ll soon feel the benefits!
 

Footnotes: 

i Healthfinder.gov, “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ii Produce for Better Health Foundation, "Easy Ways to Add Fruits & Veggies to Your Day"