Did you know that most people in the United States do not consume the basic daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables? According to the National Health Association, only 10 percent of the population eats the daily USDA Food Guide Pyramid's minimum recommendation of 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Eleven percent consume no fruits or vegetables in any given day, 45 percent of adults consume no fruits per day, and 22 percent of adults consume no vegetables per day. Surprised? So was I!
Eating less than the recommended amounts of these food groups can leave you deficient in fiber, vitamins, minerals, important immunity-boosting anti-oxidants, and cancer-protecting phytochemicals. Fruits and veggies fill you up, not out, which is a boon to your waistline, too. Today many nutritionists advise that you even increase the Pyramid's serving recommendations to 3-5 fruits per day and at least 4-8 veggies per day. Don't be a statistic - eat more fruits and veggies - it's easy - they're delicious! Your body will function better and the appearance of your hair, skin, and nails will radiate with improved health.
Not sure how to integrate all those servings into your daily diet? Follow my suggestions below for 12 easy ways to eat more health-promoting produce.
12 Easy Ways to Eat More Produce
1. Freeze small chunks of bananas, strawberries, raspberries, melons, mangos, or peaches in resealable freezer bags and add to fruit smoothies for a refreshing snack or quick breakfast. You can also purchase these fruits (except bananas) in pre-frozen bags at the grocery store.
2. Make vegetable kabobs and cook on the grill.
3. Take a large bag of raw veggies to work everyday for low-calorie finger food. It sure beats hitting the vending machine or doughnut shop for a snack.
4. Make frozen fruit kabobs and serve as a light snack or refreshing dessert.
5. Drink freshly extracted vegetable juice (available at health food store juice bars or make your own at home with your juicer) instead of soda or fruit juice drinks.
6. Keep a colorful fruit salad in your refrigerator at all times for convenient, healthy nibbling.
7. Keep bags of dried fruits in your purse and car.
8. Be adventurous! Try one new fruit or vegetable each week.
9. Experiment with international vegetarian recipes that include lots of flavorful vegetable combinations and use interesting herbs and spices. Curry, Italian/garlic blend, and garam masala powders are a couple of my favorite seasonings.
10. Eat whole fruit for breakfast or double the amount you ordinarily add to your bowl of cereal or porridge. Here's a favorite breakfast of mine: Add a chopped MacIntosh apple to old-fashioned oatmeal while it is cooking, stir in a sprinkling of cinnamon and a dash of sea salt. Toss in a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. This fills you up and tastes fabulous!
11. Enjoy delicious cold fruit soup or gazpacho as a light lunch or appetizer.
12. Cook a big pot of vegetarian chili or stew accompanied by a chunk of hearty, whole-grain bread.
NOTE: This article was adapted from the book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today", by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing 2001. Ms. Tourles is the author of this and many other holistic personal care books including, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing 2007. The information in this article is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.