Fill Your Health Toolbox Eat More Fruits and Veggies

By Karyn King, MS4

Tufts University School of Medicine

 

Many of us have found ourselves sitting on that crinkly white paper at the doctor’s office, listening to our doctors telling us to eat more fruits and vegetables. This seems like such a simple task, right? Wrong. A recent study from the CDC shows that less than 1 out of every 4 people eats enough fruit every day! It doesn’t get much better for veggies: less than 1 out of 7 people eating the recommended amount.

 

Why is it such a struggle for us to eat enough fruits and veggies? It comes down to having the right set of ‘tools’ in our toolbox to tackle this task. Many people have questions and barriers around eating fruits and veggies. Why is it important? How many is enough? Are certain kinds better for our health? Where can I buy fresh fruits and veggies?

 

I’ve gathered the answers to these questions. Let’s work on filling our toolbox with all the right tools so that we can make some healthy changes and improvements to the meals we feed our families.

 

 

Why should I eat more fruits and vegetables?

  • Eating a well balanced diet has very clearly been shown to have many benefits for health. These benefits include (but certainly not limited to!) lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.

     

How many fruits and vegetables should I eat each day?

  • 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is best.  

    • Try to break it down like this:

      • Eat 3-5 servings of vegetables

      • Eat 2-4 servings of fruit 

  • What the heck is a serving?

    • 1 serving of fruit is the same as 1 cup raw fruit like grapes or berries or one whole piece of fruit like an apple or banana

    • 1 serving of vegetables is the same as 1 cup raw vegetables like carrots or chopped peppers or ½ cup cooked vegetables like steamed broccoli or roasted sweet potatoes

  • If math isn’t your strong point, don’t worry! I have an even simpler way to think of this. Basically, try to make sure at least half of your plate at each meal is made up of fruits and vegetables and you’ll be well on your way to eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for more information about making healthy food choices.

 

What kinds of fruits and vegetables should I be eating?  

  • All types of fruits and vegetables count towards your daily serving goal! Enjoy them fresh, frozen, canned, juiced and dried.

    • Frozen and canned varieties are just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables. They also cost less! 

    • Make sure you read the labels on juices. Only 100% fruit and vegetable juices are true members of the fruit and vegetable food groups!

 

Where can I buy fresh fruits and vegetables?

  • Your local grocery store is a great place to try a variety of fruits and vegetables.

  • A social and active alternative to the grocery store is to go for a walk through your local farmer’s market. You’ll find fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. There are several options for farmer’s markets in the Portland, ME area. Some even run throughout the winter months!

 

Where

When

Hours

Months

Deering Oaks Park

Saturday

7 am – 1 pm

April – November

Monument Square

Wednesday

7 am – 1 pm

May – November

Milk and Honey of Swallowtail Farm

(84 Cove St. East Bayside)

Saturday

9 am – 1 pm

December – April

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are lots of farmer’s markets located all throughout Maine! Use this website to find one near you: http://www.mainefarmersmarkets.org/

 

I hope that you can use this information to fill your health ‘toolbox’ and make a plan to eat more fruits and veggies! Reach out to a health educator at the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center with your questions about healthy eating and active living.

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