Eat a Variety of Fruits and Veggies for Best Results
By Claire Kowalchik
Order a side salad in many restaurants and you will get a pile of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with some carrot strips. If you’re lucky, you may get a cherry tomato or two. Sure, it’s better than an order of fries, but nutritionally, this salad is as fruitless as calling ketchup a vegetable.
To get an adequate intake of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables—enough not only to meet the national dietary guidelines but also to please your palate—you have to eat a variety. Your fruits and veggies should come in a rainbow of colors, from vibrant purple to deep green and bright yellow.
If the iceberg lettuce salad sounds familiar, or you can’t remember the last time you even had an interesting vegetable, you’re not alone. According to The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 75 percent of Americans eat too few fruits and vegetables. When we do eat vegetables, everyday potatoes, tomatoes, and onions rank at the top of the list.
Eating Fruits and Vegetables Helps Reduce Your Risk of Disease
We need to spice things up a little in the produce department! After all, fruits and vegetables are important to good health. A fruit and vegetable-rich diet:
- Boosts fiber intake. Dietary fiber improves the health of the digestive system and can reduce risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- Serves up the most important vitamins for good health, including folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells and is important for women of childbearing age. Vitamin A prevents infections and keeps eyes and skin healthy. And vitamin C helps heal wounds and cuts, keeps teeth and gums healthy, and aids the body in absorbing the iron it needs.
- Provides a healthy dose of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure, lower risk of kidney stones, and decrease bone loss. Good vegetable sources of potassium include tomatoes, beet greens, and spinach.
- Lowers calorie intake and promotes weight loss. You can munch on 40 baby carrots for the same number of calories in just 14 potato chips, for example.
With all these benefits in mind, it should come as no surprise that the new 2015-2020 National Dietary Guidelines tell Americans to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Remember, for weight loss on Jenny Craig, you can have unlimited non-starchy vegetables and up to 4 servings of fruit per day depending on your calorie menu.
Slipping More Fruits and Vegetables In
Knowing you need to eat more fruits and vegetables is one thing. Actually incorporating into your daily eating plan is another. To help, here are some tips:
- Make a rainbow salad. On a bed of greens, add veggies (and fruits) of all the other colors—red, orange, yellow, blue and purple. Some ideas—red peppers, mandarin oranges, and yellow beets, blueberries, purple cabbage, white jicama.
- Try to get as many of your fruits as possible from whole fruits, not fruit juices.
- Slice vegetables and keep them handy for snacks and side dishes. Red, green, and yellow peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, and celery all make great munchies.
- Use fruit as dessert. Add berries, melons, and other fruits on top of your Jenny Craig desserts
- Make fruit kabobs. Pineapple, peaches, and bananas all taste delicious warm and grilled.
- Add fresh fruits and veggies to your Jenny Craig sandwiches. Add some sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumbers, or tomatoes for a tasty topper.
- Create a fresh sauce for your seafood, chicken, or breakfast waffles. Puree baked apples, fresh berries, pears, or peaches for a thick, sweet sauce.
- Challenge yourself to try a new fresh fruit or vegetable each time you grocery shop until you’ve tried them all!