By: Dr. Keith Kantor, CEO NAMED Program
Fruits and vegetables provide numerous benefits, including improved nutritional status, decreased obesity risk, stronger immune system, balanced digestion, prevention of chronic disease and better mental performance. It is unfortunate that most Americans do not consume the minimum recommendation of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The optimal amount of servings to consume per day is actually 9-11, with a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit. A more visual way to ensure that children are getting adequate servings is to cover one – half of their mealtime plates with fruits and vegetables in order to gain the numerous benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables daily.
Our bodies require good nutrition, and fruits and vegetables contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds most commonly referred to as antioxidants. Citrus fruits, bell peppers and strawberries are rich in immune system-boosting vitamin C, carrots and sweet potatoes are loaded with eye-healthy vitamin A and spinach and other dark leafy greens are a good source of iron, a mineral that helps prevent anemia. Ensuring that a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables will ensure that you are exposed to a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that will keep them healthy and developing properly.
Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense not calorie dense, meaning they can be consumed in large quantities without consuming excessive calories, they actually help keep you feeling full and may prevent you from filling up on junk foods or empty calories. Produce contains a large amount of water, they are high in fiber, but low in fat and calories
To increase consumption of fruits and vegetables:
Shop with your eyes, purchase bright and colorful foods, these options tend to be in season and packed with flavor.
Sneak pureed vegetables into your favorite foods, add carrots to spaghetti sauce, cauliflower to macaroni and cheese, spinach to smoothies, etc.
Consider adding a Super Food Shake/ Supplement and cold pressed low sugar juice to your daily routine. The superfood shakes are high quality nutrients that will improve immune system, digestion and prevent malnutrition. Super food shake packets are great for traveling or busy days.
Juicing and superfood shakes should not replace the consumption of fruits and vegetables that you chew and eat with meals but it is an excellent quick and portable source of nutrients and extracts from fruits and vegetables.
Stock up on pre washed veggies and fruit in small baggies on the lower shelves of the fridge so you can easily grab them. If there are too many steps like washing and chopping then we most likely will grab more convenient less healthy snacks like crackers, chips, etc. Taking the time to pre wash, chop and portion your fruits and vegetables out will make them more appealing and you will end up eating more of them.