March is National Nutrition Month: Focus on Increasing Veggies and Fruits

We all benefit from a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits each day, but research suggests that more is better! Vegetables seem to have the biggest impact on our health. Why not include veggies in every meal and fruits in at least a couple meals each day. Veggies are great sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and fiber as well as antioxidants. There is no downside to eating more of them!

The research is strong: Eating vegetables and fruits decreases chronic diseases

A European study published in 2014 followed 450,000 individuals for 13 years. They found that people who ate more than about 1 1/4 lbs of vegetables and fruits each day had a much lower risk of death over that 13 years than those who ate less than about 1/2 pound per day.  The relationship was strongest for vegetable intake, especially raw vegetable intake.

Other studies have looked at the development of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, obesity, GI problems and vision problems. Risk for ALL of these conditions was decreased by eating more vegetables and fruits.

It is especially important that we eat a lot of veggies and fruit early in life. A 2015 study showed that when young adults ate a diet high in vegetables and fruit, they had a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease 20 years later.

What can you do?

Most Americans do not eat enough vegetables! We do a little better with fruits, but still don’t meet recommendations. It’s all about making eating veggies and fruits with EVERY meal and snack a habit!

Think outside the box. You might say, “a salad for breakfast? That just doesn’t sound right”.  BUT, you could try it. Good chance adding a salad to your breakfast of oatmeal and fruit would help you stay full longer, as well as help you eat more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Oats made with Hemp Hearts for added protein, and topped with milk and frozen berries that were thawed in the microwave + a salad and a cup of tea! High protein oats recipe:

If you’re having eggs for breakfast add veggies to them while cooking.

Veggie frittata made with spinach and sun dried tomatoes with sweet potato on the side.
Sautéed veggies with fried eggs.

Make sure you are adding veggies to lunch, dinner and snacks as well.

Soups made with lots of veggies.

Chicken noodle and veggie soup. A complete meal in one pot.
Chicken, veggie soup with butternut squash. A complete meal in one pot.

Raw veggies for snacks:

A salad with any meal!

OR a whole meal in a salad!

Green salad topped with lentils and chicken, a complete meal!

Cooked veggies are great too.

Meatloaf muffins (meatloaf made in muffin pans) + Mashed potaoes and a large serving of broccoli.
Scallops sautéed in olive oil with garlic, bell peppers and mushrooms, served over brown rice with steamed asparagus on the side.

Bottom Line:

If there were only one thing I could tell you to improve your eating it would be: EAT MORE VEGGIES! There are lots of delicious ways to serve veggies. Browse through the recipes on this website to get more ideas!