Fruits and Vegetables: More Matters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a public health campaign a few years ago called the 5-A-Day-Program, which encouraged people to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, a growing amount of evidence suggested that even five servings were not enough. The new campaign, Fruit and Veggies: More Matters, encourages an even greater consumption of fruits and vegetables.
According to Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) Registered Dietitian Beth Samuelson, studies on fruits and vegetables are numerous. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can also help your manage your weight.
Fruits and vegetables are important in your diet not only for the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they provide, but also for their color. Substances that give fruits and vegetables their color are called phytochemicals. These natural plant compounds not only protect plants, they also seem to provide disease protection to humans. Samuelson said, “Each fruit and vegetable contains hundreds of different phytochemicals, so no one color group does it all. By eating regularly from each color group, you are giving yourself the widest health protection of all.”
Using more fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and beans is a safe and healthy way to manage your weight. Samuelson said, “Fruits and vegetables help you to manage your weight because they are low in calories compared with the same volume of other foods. Use fruits and vegetables to replace foods that are higher in fat and sugar. Choose a large green salad with lite dressing instead of 20 steak fries and save 250 calories. Choose ½ cup of frozen grapes instead of a ½ cup of M&M’s and save 425 calories. Fruits and vegetables also help you to feel full for longer because of their high water and fiber content. Raw and crispy fruit and vegetables help you to eat less because they require more chewing. More chewing slows the pace of eating and helps you to decrease your intakes at meals.”
With all these benefits of fruits and vegetables, everyone should be eating more. The most recent State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables put together by the CDC showed that only 12.3 percent of adult Iowans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Minnesotans fared worse at 11.6 percent and South Dakotans were even less at 10.1 percent. Statistics for adolescents were even more discouraging at only 8.3 percent of adolescent Iowans eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
For more information on how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in your family’s diet, please contact LRH Registered Dietitian Beth Samuelson at 712-336-8785. More information about the benefits of fruit and vegetables is also available at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org and www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.