Brighten Up with Vegetables and Fruit
Looking for the fountain of youth?
Look no further than the produce section of your local grocer or farmers’ market. Get going and get “glowing” by adding a few extra servings of vegetables and fruit to your diet.
Your mother was on to something when she insisted that you eat your vegetables and fruit. These colourful gems are packed with nutrients that fuel an active body and keep you looking and feeling your best. However, the Canadian Community Health Survey (2004) found that the majority Canadians fall short of recommendations and get less than five servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Vegetables and fruit contain numerous nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre) that play a role in preventing chronic disease.
Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to keep you healthy. Most vitamins and minerals are not made by the body. To meet your daily needs, it is best for adults to eat a well-balanced diet that includes at least seven servings of vegetables and fruit.
To maximize your vitamin and mineral intake, choose a variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit every day. Great choices include:
- dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, beet tops
- vibrant orange vegetables and fruit: carrots, squash, yams, cantaloupe, mangos
intensely dark veggies and fruit: eggplant, blackberries, blueberries
These foods are also loaded with antioxidants that protect your cells from damage caused by pollutants, smoke, unhealthy diets and the normal aging process.
With the recent attention dietary fibre has received, you may know that it plays an important role in good health, regularity and even weight loss. Dietitians of Canada advises that increasing your fibre intake is also associated with lowering cholesterol and protecting against colon cancer. Vegetables and fruit are excellent sources of dietary fibre. To get the greatest fibre benefit from your veggies and fruit, try the following tips:
- Eat at least seven servings of vegetables and fruit every day.
- Eat the peels of your vegetables and fruits whenever possible.
- Enjoy fruit as a snack or as a dessert.
- Eat fruit instead of drinking juice
Preventing chronic disease
The foundation of a healthy diet is plenty of vegetables and fruit. Eating this way may help prevent a number of chronic diseases such as the following:
The DASH diet which focuses on eating vegetables and fruit, whole grain products and lower-fat milk products has been shown to reduce hypertension. You can order your own copy of the DASH diet fact sheet from Alberta Milk.
Remember that fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are all nutritious. The most important thing is that you are consuming enough. Are you meeting your daily requirements of veggies and fruit? Keep track of how many servings you consume each day with Dietitians of Canada’s EaTracker, Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Get Enough Helper App or Alberta Milk’s Plate Mate.
Article revised March 2015