Fruits and vegetables are more than just a pretty face. The benefits of plant-based foods are huge, contributing to overall health and disease prevention. Plant-based foods are nutrient dense and provide healthy calories rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. The USDA’s MyPlate makes it simple – aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetable. Unfortunately, many Americans fall short when it comes to fruit and veggie consumption. Don’t lag behind when it comes to fruit and veggies – energize your diet with the following tips.
- The recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables depends upon your age, sex, weight, activity level and dietary goals. As a rule of thumb, adults should aim for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups of fruit/day and 2 1/2 – 4 cups of vegetables/day.
- A cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy salad greens can be considered a serving from the vegetable group.
- A cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit can be considered as a serving from the fruit group. Try to limit fruit juice to no more than 1 serving a day as it is a concentrated source of calories and does not have the fiber found in whole fruits.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables all day long. Aim to include at least 1 serving of fruit and/or vegetables at each meal – and as a snack – to maximize your intake of plant-based foods.
- Fruits and vegetables fill you up and help with weight management. If you enjoy a salad at lunch or a piece of fruit for a snack, you may be less likely to grab a bag of chips or a candy bar.
- Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables each have a unique nutrition profile. Try to eat the colors of the rainbow to get the most variety and benefit from your diet.
- If you are short on time, purchase pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables, such as greens, baby carrots and broccoli florets. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables pre-cut and ready to go in the produce department. Get creative with pre-packaged spiralized vegetables, such as squash and zucchini.
- Looking for easy? Visit the salad bar or the prepared foods department for ready-to-eat plant-based options.
- Keep a stash of frozen and canned vegetables handy. They can be enjoyed with minimal preparation or tossed in with soups and salads, stews, and casseroles.
- While fresh fruit is delicious, don’t discount canned and frozen options. Canned and frozen fruits are quick fixes for a snack or side, or they can be incorporated into smoothies, salads, and desserts.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can seem like a tough task, but there are simple ways to increase your daily intake without much pain! All it takes is an open mind and a little creativity.
*Take the Fruit and Veggie Challenge – pick up a “new-to-you” fruit or vegetable or prepare a vegetarian recipe. Click here and search for “Vegetarian” on our recipe portal – pages of recipes from Eggplant Chickpea Stew to Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower Tacos and More!