Promoting Healthy Families, Schools, and Communities in New Jersey
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Vegetables and Fruits

Eat a Rainbow of Color Every Day

Most Americans know that fruits and vegetables are important to a healthy diet, but studies indicate that many Americans do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits each day. In the 2010 State of the Plate report issued by the Produce for Better Health Foundation, only 6% reached the target for vegetables and 8% for fruit in an average day.

While some groups of adults have started to increase their fruit intake and a few have increased vegetables, the report indicated that older adults are eating less fruit and vegetables. Those over age 65 have decreased their intake nearly 10% less than 2004 levels.

Consuming fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease and aids in weight management too. The risk of developing these diseases increases as we age, but it is never too late to lower your risk.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced its My Pyramid icon with the new MyPlate icon. It supports the recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables than any other group.

One of the key concepts of MyPlate is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. This includes 100% juice, fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables. How many fruits and vegetables do we need? The answer is half your plate!

Here are a dozen ways to help you include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

  1. Start dinner with a green salad or bowl of vegetable soup.
  2. Add fresh fruit like blueberries or sliced bananas to plain yogurt for breakfast or a snack.
  3. Keep a container of grape tomatoes or cut up carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, or broccoli, in the refrigerator for snacks or to add to lunch.
  4. Try a "Meatless Monday" and sample some new veggie dishes.
  5. Have your kids select the family fruits and vegetables for the week. Make each day a different color.
  6. Instead of crackers try a snack of apple slices or carrot sticks with peanut butter dip.
  7. Stock the freezer with bags of frozen veggies--they are easy to microwave or quickly steam for lunch or dinner.
  8. Add chopped onion, broccoli and peppers to a jar of spaghetti sauce.
  9. Place bananas, grapes and strawberries on a skewer and freeze for a "snack on a stick."
  10. For a fall/winter treat, roast chopped root vegetables in the oven with a little olive oil and fresh rosemary.
  11. Order more vegetables and less cheese on your pizza.
  12. For a sweet snack, choose chunks of whole fresh fruit instead of baked goods.

Vegetables and fruits are clearly part of a healthy diet. Remember, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and aim for variety. Eat a rainbow of color everyday. You will be on your way to eating well and healthy.

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