Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily lowers your risk of several kinds of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids.
“We are still studying the exact mechanism, but we know that the pigment, or color, of the fruit or vegetable tells you the family of protective benefit to our cells, which is associated with lower rates of cancer,” said Milette Siler, dietitian at Moncrief Cancer Institute.
According to a recent CDC report, only about one in 10 of us are getting what we need (one to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables each day).
But, the good news is, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better the outcome for your health. Siler offers these tips for including more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Start smart Breakfast is a great time to sneak in fruit and vegetables, in the form of smoothies, egg dishes, toasts or oatmeal. Knowing that you most likely struggle for time in the morning, set yourself up for success with a plan for quick and easy grab-and-go meals. Want to try smoothies? Pre-fill freezer bags of individual portions that you can grab, dump into a blender, add water or milk and press blend. Try adding spinach to a tropical blend smoothie of banana and pineapple.
You can also make a simple egg frittata by baking leftover vegetables (try broccoli, red bell pepper, spinach or kale) and egg with a little cheese in an 8 1/2 x 11 pan with a few beaten eggs. Cut into squares, freeze, and you have an easy protein and fiber-filled breakfast as you head out the door.
Flip your dip Portion out half the number of chips you would normally eat with your salsa or hummus, and instead of the extra chips, use sliced cucumber, carrot or celery sticks for dipping.
Use veggies to flavor and tenderize When making sauces, stews or casseroles that contain meat, consider using less beef or poultry and amp up the vegetable content instead. Many veggies, like mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant, can take on the texture of meat when you spice and cook them the same way.
How do you add fruits and veggies into your day? We would love to hear your tips and ideas!