Most of us don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87 percent of Americans aren't getting enough servings of vegetables (76 percent don't get enough fruit each day). Eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk for chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Whole fruits and veggies contain fiber, which is a nutrient important for keeping your gut healthy that can reduce your risk for autoimmune diseases and fight off pathogens and infections and even improve your mood.
Fresh produce is also packed with beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals. What's fascinating is that nature seems to have a way of highlighting these nutrients by giving them bright colors that allow you to spot them at a glance. For example, anthocyanins make blueberries blue and may help to keep your mind sharp. Tomatoes get their ruby hue from lycopene, a phytochemical that may help to prevent prostate cancer.
To get the maximum disease-fighting power that phytochemicals can provide, choose foods that represent all colors of the rainbow. The USDA suggests paying particular attention to orange and red foods (5 1/2 cups per week) and dark green (1 1/2 cups per week) produce, both good sources of vitamin A and other important nutrients. Check out our picture above which incorporates some dairy and grains that can be added to your plates alongside colorful fruits and veggies.
Coming next week, recipes to support incorporating more veggies into your diet. It's going to be fun 😚.