Fruits and vegetables form a significant part of a healthy diet, since they contain vitamins and minerals that support good health. Including fruits and vegetables in your diet will help you to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and gain vital nutrients for maintenance of your body. If you are excited about cheese, dessert and macaroni while finding excuses to avoid fruits and vegetables, derive creative ways to include them in your meals.
Fruit and Vegetable Groups
According to The United States Department of Agriculture, fruit groups include berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and melons including honeydews, cantaloupes and watermelons. Vegetable groups include kale, spinach and broccoli, starchy varieties such as cassava, corn and green peas. The amount of fruits and vegetables you need depends on your age. Women aged 19 to 30 should eat 2 cups, while older women should eat 1 ½ cups of 100 percent fruit juice or 1 cup of raw, leafy greens.
According to the American Dietetic Association, if you are pregnant, drink 8 to10 cups of fluids daily. Couple this with whole grains to add low carbs and fiber to your diet. This prevents constipation, a common complaint during pregnancy. These foods also provide vitamin A, which strengthens your eyes, and vitamin C, which keeps your gums healthy and heals wounds. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin K could save you from osteoarthritis, which is caused by the wearing of cartilage that lines your joints. Most fruits and vegetables have vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin. This vitamin is a great addition to your diet. It has immense benefits ranging from healthy skin to proper circulation.
Fruits and vegetables provide potassium, folic acid to maintain a healthy pregnancy, dietary fiber, which prevents constipation, and soluble fiber, which lowers your cholesterol levels. These nutrients lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for cancer, obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. According to the Harvard School of public health, a daily serving of fruits will reduce your chances of heart disease, due the potassium that fruits contain. It is also responsible for healthy nerves and muscles. Folate, a necessary mineral especially for pregnant women, is readily available in spinach, papaya and oranges and reduces the chances of birth defects.
According to the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, Americans on average miss more than 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables they need daily. These foods have no cholesterol and are low in calories and fat. Choose fresh, canned and frozen types and add them to soups, stews and casseroles. If your kids avoid them, add a variety of fruits and vegetables in their lunchboxes such as broccoli, spinach, zucchini and mushrooms.
- USDA: Why is it Important to Eat Fruit?
- USDA: What Counts as a Cup of Fruit?
- American Dietetic Association: Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome; Kaiser L et al.
- Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition: Fruits And Vegetables
- Mayo Clinic: Osteoarthritis
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day
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