Fruits and vegetables are essential to maintaining your health. With their combination of essential vitamins and vital nutrients, you should be eating fruits and vegetables every day.
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may help prevent chronic diseases.
- Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. None have cholesterol. It is important to remember that some sauces or seasonings may add any of the above.
- Many contain Vitamin C, which is important for growth, healing cuts and wounds and aiding iron absorption. Vitamin-C rich foods include kiwi, strawberries, oranges, sweet potatoes, tomato juice and cauliflower.
- Diets rich in potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure, decrease bone loss and reduce the risk of kidney stones. To increase your potassium intake, try carrot juice, lima beans or white potatoes.
- Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. This is especially important for pregnant women (or those who wish to become pregnant), as it reduces the risk of many birth defects. Asparagus, cooked spinach and black-eyed peas are all good sources.
How Much Do You Need?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that children, teenagers and adults should fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables at all meals. For more details, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.
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