More Healthy Eating Matters

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More Healthy Eating Matters

Date: 02/17/11

More Healthy Eating Matters—Fruits and Vegetables

Did you start 2008 with a resolution to lose weight or start an exercise program?  Has that ambition waned? Consider altering your resolution to improve your diet by including more fruit and vegetable servings as more matters.

The new food guide pyramid recommends fruits and vegetables in cups instead of servings. A 25-year old woman who gets 30 to 60 minutes of activity each day needs 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily.

There's plenty of scientific evidence to document the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and veggies are brimming with disease-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Not only that, but they're naturally low in sodium and calories, cholesterol-free, and virtually fat-free.

It's important to eat a rainbow of colored fruits and vegetables every day.

A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is your body’s best defense against obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic diseases. The pigments in fruit and veggies act as antioxidants—helping to rid your body of "free radicals," that can damage cells.

With two–thirds of American adults overweight, the weight–control benefits of fruits and vegetables are especially important. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of fiber and water to help you feel full, and thus prevent overeating. Substituting fruits and vegetables for "empty calorie" foods that offer little nutritional value can really make a difference in your weight

Consider including fruit and vegetable servings in a number of ways in each of your meals:

Add dried or fresh fruit to oatmeal, granola or bran cereal for breakfast.

Add fresh fruits (apples, diced raw pears, mandarin orange sections) to your salad greens.

Replace iceberg lettuce with more nutrient rich greens like spinach and romaine.

Serve a platter of raw veggies (carrot or sweet potato sticks, celery, cauliflower or broccoli, cherry tomatoes, pea pods) as your appetizer and to stave off the hunger pangs when you are in the midst of dinner preparations.

Prepare vegetable–based salad and fresh fruit for your lunch the night before.

Steam and puree nutrient–rich veggies to add to a variety of entrees, desserts and soups. Carrots or pumpkin in muffin recipes, cauliflower in potato soup, butternut squash in meatloaf, and spinach in lasagna all add extra nutrients to the otherwise simple dish.

Try eating at least two vegetables with dinner, like a baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli with herbed chicken breast and whole wheat toast.

Freeze grapes and bananas for a refreshing and cool treat.

Take the easy way out. Buy prepared vegetables that make it easy to include them in meals. Or drink vegetable juice instead of eating a tomato.

Check out the following websites for recipes and more ideas for including more fruits and veggies in your diet.

Here is a warm soup that includes some great veggies with tasty sausage and lentils that, with a crisp green salad, whole grain roll and fresh fruit, would make a great dinner.

Sausage and Lentil Soup—Makes 8 – 1 ¼ cup servings

  • 8 ounces of lower fat turkey, smoked sausage sliced into pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 15-16 ounce can of no added salt diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 3 cups of no added salt chicken broth
  • ¾ cup of lentils

Brown sausage. Add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and pepper to sausage and sauté until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes or sauce, chicken broth, and lentils. Bring to simmer and simmer for 1 hour.

Nutrient Information (per serving):
Calories – 130
Fat – 3 grams
Protein – 9 grams
Carbohydrate – 17 grams
Fiber – 6 grams
Cholesterol – 12 mg
Sodium – 508 mg

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