Why do we need to include fruits and vegetables in our diet?
They provide us with a variety of vitamins and minerals essential for our bodies to function properly. They also provide antioxidants and phytonutrients that can’t be replicated in supplement form. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber that keep us full and keep our blood sugar stable. They are low in calories, which can help to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of disease.
Be creative in adding vegetables to dishes you already enjoy. When making chili, dice some bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, celery, squash or leafy greens and toss it in. Canned soup can be very … soupy. Enrich it by adding chopped fresh or frozen vegetables. It’s easy to ask for vegetables added to your pizza when eating out, or if it’s frozen, just top it with some vegetables you enjoy before baking it. Instead of snacking on a granola bar, try swapping it out for fruit. Oranges and bananas even come ready to eat in their own biodegradable wrappers. Salads don’t have to be only vegetables; consider adding sliced strawberries or a chopped apple.
The federal government’s 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits daily, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Unfortunately, 87 percent of us are not meeting the recommendation for vegetables, and 75 percent are not consuming the recommended amount of fruit, according to health.gov.
Cost is one of the most frequently reported barriers for being unable to meet the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Research done by the Produce Marketing Association found the average retail price for four, half-cup equivalents of fruits and vegetables per day is $2.18. Some of the least expensive fresh fruits include watermelon, bananas, cantaloupe, apples and pineapple, according to usda.gov. Some of the least expensive fresh vegetables include potatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce and cucumbers. Choosing frozen, canned or dried can reduce the cost per serving of some fruits and vegetables.
For more information on adding fruits and vegetables to your diet contact the Army Wellness Center at (06371) 9464-1478.