We all know or have heard that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is important for our health. So, why is it such a challenge for so many people to eat them or the required amount to keep them healthy?
Building a healthy plate is simple when 50% is filled with colorful vegetables and some fruit. These plants provide the body with vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They're our only source of phytonutrients which are healing and powerful plant chemicals that promote good health. They protect us from various types of cancer, inflammation, autoimmune disease, heart disease, obesity, and many other chronic illnesses.
So aim to eat 10-14 servings of plants daily, with a focus on non-starchy veggies at every meal such as dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine), broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, radish, zucchini, peppers, mushroom, celery, cabbage, fennel, and artichoke. Half your plate should be fully loaded with these vegetables and a variety of color. Think about eating the rainbow every day, with these vegetables as the star of your meals. Then add about 2-3 servings of fruit a day.
How do 10-14 servings add up? Let's say you have a large salad at lunch with romaine and 4 different vegetables like carrots, cucumber, mushroom, and broccoli, then fill your plate at dinner with 2 cups of cooked veggies, that's 8 servings of veggies right there! Add in a serving of fruit at breakfast, for a snack, or dessert, and you're at 10-11 servings of plants!
What exactly do the colors mean?
Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables like eggplant and beets contain anthocyanins, and red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers contain lycopene. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that help limit cell damage caused by free radicals and may also lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and memory problems. Lycopene protects against your risk for cancer and heart disease.
White fruits and vegetables like garlic, onion, and leeks contain allicin, which may help lower your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and heart disease.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, found in pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potato, and carrots. Carotenoids protect against cancer, help improve your immune function, and benefit skin and vision.
Green found in broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and arugula contain phytochemicals and indoles which help prevent the risk for cancer and boost detoxification.
So now you know what a wealth of health it is to eat fruit and vegetables. And eating the rainbow daily literally is your personal food pharmacy. If you are having trouble finding ways to add more fruit and veggies to your meals, here are simple ideas to incorporate them every day!
Eat your Way to Good Health!
1) Enjoy a breakfast smoothie with dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, frozen berries, and banana. (keep fruit to 1 c serving)
2) Make a veggie wrap or sandwich with roasted vegetables on a whole grain tortilla or bread.
3) Add vegetables to your pizza slice. Try broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, peppers, and zucchini.
4) Grill colorful vegetable kabobs with tomato, peppers, mushrooms, and onions.
5) Keep a colorful fruit bowl in eyes view wherever possible. What you see you will eat.
6) Have a vegetable omelet stuffed with an abundance of vegetables like spinach, mushroom, peppers, tomato, and avocado.
7) Enjoy sliced veggies with hummus or guacamole dip. Try carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, etc.
8) Add vegetables to your sandwiches. (dark leafy greens like romaine or spinach, tomato, avocado, fermented pickles)
9) Add fresh fruit to your yogurt, pancakes, and cereal.
10) Top a sweet potato with broccoli, beans, and salsa.
11) Enjoy a side salad and hearty cup of soup for lunch. Lentil, split pea, vegetarian chili, butternut squash, or just vegetables are great options.
12) Have zucchini noodles (zoodles) or lasagna, broccoli or cauliflower rice or mash instead of pasta, rice, and potatoes.
13) Have fruit for dessert. Freeze bananas and avocado for healthy ice cream options.
14) Stock up on organic frozen fruits & vegetables so you always have quick, healthy meal options on hand.
Now that you know how easy it is to add good health to your meals every day, what are some ways you will get started this week? As always, I'd love to hear from you and your favorite ways to add vegetables and fruit to your meals!
To your health & happiness,