Fruits and Vegetables

The Basics

Fruits and vegetables are a necessary part of your daily diet. They provide many necessary vitamins and nutrients that control your overall health and wellness. They can help boost your immune system, regulate your weight, and protect you from diseases later in life such as heart disease and diabetes.

Nutrients

Most of the basic nutrients you need in your diet can be found in fruits and vegetables. Different fruits and vegetables provide various vitamins and nutrients. By incorporating a variety of produce into your diet, you can ensure your body is getting the vitamins it needs to help you function properly.

What do these vitamins do?

  • Vitamin A: promotes a healthy immune system, maintains eye health, keeps your skin healthy, and is essential for growth and development of cells.
  • Vitamin B: necessary for normal brain, nerve, heart, and muscle function and makes red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C: promotes a healthy immune system, helps your blood absorb iron, maintains the health of your bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels.
  • Vitamin E: protects your cells from damage, keeps your skin looking young and healthy.

Antioxidants: protect your cells against damage from free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases and cancers, and slow the effects of aging.

Weight Management

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. They are a healthy alternative to many snack foods we consume on a regular basis. By making them a significant portion of your diet, you will likely reduce the number of calories you eat per day, helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Disease Prevention

The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are essential to regulating your body’s health. Eating produce can drastically cut your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and fight against various forms of cancer. They can lower blood pressure and prevent kidney stones from forming. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help regulate your digestive system relieving constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Consuming fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of contracting many of the diseases that are the leading cause of death among Americans today.

Take Action

Recommended amounts

Nutritionists recommend consuming 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day. This translates to 5-13 servings of fruit or vegetables each day. However, the average American eats only 3 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day.

What counts as a serving?

  • 1 apple, orange, or banana
  • ½ a grape fruit
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit or vegetables
  • ½ cup of dried fruit
  • 4 oz of fresh juice
  • 2 cups of leafy green vegetables
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 2 small tomatoes or 20 cherry tomatoes
Fruits high in specific nutrients
NutrientFruit
Antioxidants Blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, plums
Vitamins A Carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, peas, mango, watermelon, grapefruits
Vitamin B Avocado, banana, grapes, watermelon, mango, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, squash, corn,
Vitamin C Citrus, strawberries, grapefruit, pineapple, broccoli, butternut squash
Vitamin E Avocado, kiwi, nectarine, peach, pomegranate, butternut squash, parsnips
Potassium Peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges, bananas

Ways to Sneak in Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Eat one serving of fruit of vegetable at each meal. That can be one hand fruit, a fistful of carrots, or a small salad.
  2. Put lettuce and tomato on your sandwich or burger for one serving of vegetables.
  3. Cut up pieces of apples, bananas, or strawberries to put in a bowl of cereal.
  4. A bowl of soup is often filled with a serving of vegetables.

Resources

Calculate how much fruits and vegetables you should be eating:

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/howmany.html

For healthy eating tips and recipe ideas:

http://www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets/

For more information about the importance of fruits and vegetables:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/fruits.html

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/