Since childhood, you’ve probably been hearing the phrase “make sure to eat your fruits and vegetables!” Fruits and vegetables are seen as the epitome of a healthy diet, yet 37.7% of U.S. adults report consuming fruits less
than once per day, and 22.6% for vegetables. In North Carolina, the average adult consumes 1 fruit per day and 1.6 vegetables per day, far below the recommended amounts.
According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the USDA, fruits and vegetables should make up half of your plate per meal. Recommended fruit and vegetable intake depends on sex, age, and level of physical activity, so there is no magic number that every person should follow. However, most adults should consume an average of 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. The USDA offers helpful guidelines to determine what counts as a cup of fruits or vegetables.
Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
Why are fruits and vegetables so important to your health? Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of a number of diseases and health problems, including:
- Heart Disease
- Heart Attack
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Stones
- Bone Loss
In addition to reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, proper intake of fruits and vegetables will also add essential vitamins and minerals to your diet that can provide a wide array of health benefits.
Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet
If your diet is lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, there are many ways you can incorporate them into your daily routine.
Breakfast – Try one of these delicious fruit smoothies to start your day. It’s a great way to get multiple servings of fruit, and they’re quick and easy to make.
Lunch – Make your own salad or hit up a local salad bar on your lunch break. Make you salad as colorful as possible so you get a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Snacks – Instead of munching on chips or pretzels, try carrot sticks or apple slices. Both are refreshing and easy to eat on the go.
Dinner – Always serve a vegetable with dinner. If you don’t usually do this, try incorporating vegetables into the dinner foods that you already eat, like adding vegetables to your pasta or baking them with chicken.
Dessert – Fresh fruit is always a great dessert option. If you don’t want to give up the ice cream or brownies, use fruit as a topping or side dish with your favorite desserts.