Try adding more fresh fruit, vegetables to your diet
The latest dietary guidelines recommend that all Americans increase their vegetable and fruit intake.
“Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they lower your risk of developing a chronic disease,” said Christeena Haynes, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.”
June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month so it provides a natural reminder to include more in our diets, according to Haynes.
The USDA’s MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables are based on a person’s calorie needs for age, gender, and activity level. For a 2,000 calorie diet, a person should eat two cups of fruit and two and one-half cups of vegetables a day.
To learn individual needs are, go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate/index.aspx.
In general, one cup of fruit or 1 percent fruit juice, or one-half cup of dried fruit counts as one cup from the fruit group; and, one cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or two cups of raw leafy greens can be considered one cup from the vegetable group.
Haynes says that before eating fresh fruits and vegetables, it is important to remember some basic food safety rules.
When purchasing, avoid bruised or damaged produce and keep it separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Perishable fresh produce, such as lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms, and all cut or peeled produce should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fruits and vegetables. Produce should be washed under running water (do not use soap) before eating, cutting, or cooking.
Then, cut away any damaged or bruised areas. Always wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counters between prep of raw meat, poultry, and seafood and produce.
“Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet may be easier than you think. Try topping your pizza with onions, mushrooms, or peppers. Make sandwiches with spinach, tomatoes, and onions. Use fruit as a topping for cereal, pancakes, or waffles. Add vegetables to casseroles, soups, and stir-fries. Make a fruit smoothie or mix fruit into yogurt. Pack raw vegetables with dip for a snack,” Haynes said.
For more information on nutrition contact one of the following nutrition specialists: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, 417-345-7551; Lydia Kaume in Barton County, 417-682-3579; Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, 417-881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, 417-967-4545. Information is also available online http://extension.missouri.edu.