Fruits & Veggies: Add Variety to Your Meals

You’ve probably been hearing this advice since you were a kid. “Eat your fruits and veggies!” What’s the idea behind this age-old wisdom?

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of developing many chronic diseases and can also help with weight management, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Adults in the United States consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day, but this is likely not enough for most people. Fruits and vegetables, in general, are full of necessary vitamins and minerals, low in calories, provide fiber (which can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer), and a natural source of energy.

Important vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C are found in many fruits and vegetables.

The USDA suggests a simple method for increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption: use the “Half-Your-Plate” concept when preparing meals. In other words, just fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal or each eating occasion.

Making fruits and vegetables the focal point of every meal – rather than an afterthought – will help you meet the recommended dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. And they can also add variety to your meals and some attractive colors!

Here are the USDA’s “Key Recommendations” for Healthy Eating:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups-dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

Always talk to your primary care provider about your diet plan. If you need to find a primary care provider, use our online Find a Doctor tool to see learn about providers in the Upper Peninsula.

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