Every week it seems there are new research studies reporting yet more evidence that fruits and vegetables are as essential part of a healthy diet. Whether its a newly found benefit of the antioxidants, ORAC values, pigments, or fibre content, fruits and vegetables are king when it comes to our health. The research has consistently shown that increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables decreases our risk of chronic degenerative diseases, like cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
It’s easy to increase your intake and here are some quick ways to ensure you are getting at least 5 – 13 servings each day:
- Make half your plate at every meal vegetables
- Have a big salad with some added protein as your lunch time meal
- Load your salads up with as many raw veggies as you can: cucumber, grated carrots, zucchini, broccoli florets, green beans, onions, radishes, jicama, tomato, etc. And try using high-nutrient raw spinach, romaine, kale, or spring mix as your base.
- Add berries to your breakfast
- Eat a piece of fruit when you are craving something sweet or as a healthy dessert option
- Make a homemade soup full of fresh vegetables like onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, and kale just to name a few. The possibilities really are endless.
- Keep chopped veggies in the fridge so you can grab a handful to pair with some protein as a snack
You’ll notice that most of these recommendations focus on increasing vegetable intake because, let’s be real, it’s easy to eat enough fruit in a day. Add a cup of berries to your breakfast and an apple for a snack and your pretty much covered for the day. It’s the veggies that people tend to skip over. The key is finding ways to make them tasty and enjoyable for your personal preferences. Some people love raw broccoli. I am not one of those people but I do enjoy its steamed with some organic butter and salt. Make a commitment to yourself to include at least one or two servings of vegetables with each meal and eventually you won’t even have to think twice about making a conscious effort to eat your veggies.
There are some concerns about the amount of pesticides that are present in conventionally grown produce. The Environmental Working Group has conveniently come up with a list of what they call “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15” to help consumers quickly and easily identify how they should allocate their grocery dollars. The list is updated each year and you can download their report here. They recommend that consumers buy the organic version of the Dirty Dozen because of high levels of pesticide residues, whereas the Clean 15 can be purchased conventionally or organically due to lower levels of pesticide residues.
|Dirty Dozen||Clean 15|
|1. Celery||1. Onions|
|2. Peaches||2. Avocado|
|3. Strawberries||3. Sweet Corn|
|4. Apples||4. Pineapple|
|5. Blueberries||5. Mangos|
|6. Nectarines||6. Sweet Peas|
|7. Bell Peppers||7. Asparagus|
|8. Spinach||8. Kiwi|
|9. Cherries||9. Cabbage|
|10. Kale/Collard Greens||10. Eggplant|
|11. Potatoes||11. Cantaloupe|
|12. Grapes (imported)||12. Watermelon|
|14. Sweet Potato|
|15. Honeydew Melon|
Overall, the health benefits of fruits and vegetables likely outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure but reducing your exposures and minimizing conventionally grown produce is best.
What are some of your favourite ways to get your veggies in? Share below:)