Nutritional Benefits of Fresh Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that are essential for good health. In fact, research has shown that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Key Nutrients in Fruits and Vegetables
|Nutrient||Health Benefit||Found In|
|Vitamin A||Healthy eyes and skin; protects from infection||Apricots, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Grapefruit, Greens, Leaf and Romaine Lettuce, Mangos, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelon|
|Vitamin C||Healthy teeth and gums; helps heal cuts and wounds||Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Grapefruit, Oranges, Pineapple, Strawberries, Tomatoes|
|Calcium||Healthy teeth and bones||Greens, Kale, Okra, Rhubarb, Spinach|
|Fiber||Healthy digestive system; Reduced risk of heart disease||Apples, Bananas, Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Lentils, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries, Spinach|
|Folate||Wound healing; normal cell division||Asparagus, Broccoli, Peas, Beans, Greens, Spinach, Strawberries|
|Iron||Healthy blood; learning ability||Beans, Lentils, Spinach|
|Magnesium||Healthy bones||Beans, Spinach|
|Potassium||Healthy blood pressure||Bananas, Beans, Broccoli, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes|
In spite of the health benefits of fresh produce, only 1% of adults and 2% of children in the United States eat the recommended minimum amounts of fruits and vegetables each day. Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption may seem like a daunting task, but by making a few small changes each day, you can enjoy the benefits of a diet rich in fresh produce:
- Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. The more you make fruits and vegetable available to your family at meal times, the more likely you are to eat them. Consider replacing a less healthy side dish with a salad or sliced fruit. Add fresh-cut vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots or spinach to pasta sauces and soups. Add vegetables to sandwiches. In addition to lettuce and tomatoes, try sliced cucumbers, bell peppers or avocados.
- Give your family a choice. The wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available guarantees that there is something for everyone! Take kids to the grocery store or farmer’s market and let them pick out new fruits or vegetables to try. Make a goal to eat all the colors of the rainbow each week; colorful beets, carrots, mangos, kale and blueberries add excitement to meals.
- Plan ahead before shopping. Make a shopping list before you head to the grocery store to avoid impulse purchases and to help you select fresh, healthy produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than chips, cookies and other impulse items. So you will save money and eat healthy!
- Eat healthy on the go. Apples, bananas, oranges and other fruits are pre-packaged by nature and easy to enjoy on the go.
- Avoid the snack trap. Keep fresh fruit on your kitchen counter or your desk at work so that you can reach for a healthy snack when you are hungry.
- Be a good role model. Children learn by observing their parents, and eating habits formed during childhood often last a lifetime. Make a point of eating fresh fruits and vegetables with your children and talk to them about your favorites. Help your children form healthy habits for a healthy future.