A recent study from Concordia University shows most Canadians aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. Are you one of them? If so, it’s time to load up the crisper! Here’s a reminder of the health benefits of fruits and veggies, plus some tips on how to easily incorporate the “Daily 5” into your diet.
Mom knew what she was talking about when she urged you to eat your fruits and vegetables. They’re low in fat and calories and packed with fibre, which helps keep your digestive system regular. Fresh produce is full of vitamins and antioxidants, and consumption of certain fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
One thing Mom may not have known is that fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of calcium. Green vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard, mustard greens and kale are all extremely high in calcium. In fact, one cup of cooked kale contains the same amount of absorbable calcium as one cup of cow’s milk, with half the calories. The magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K contained in many fruits and vegetables also contribute to strong bones.
Not only do fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrition, they’re also naturally low in calories and fat. Snacking on fresh produce can help you maintain or lose weight when it’s part of a healthy diet. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks that incorporate fresh fruits and veggies:
- Baby carrots with hummus
- Whole grain toast with almond butter and banana slices
- Green grapes with wheat crackers
- Greek yogurt with blueberries
- Red bell pepper strips with low-fat ranch dressing
Easy ways to eat your colours
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to derive their complete nutritional benefits. However, if you don’t have fresh fruit on hand, or if you or a family member is a bit of a picky eater, there are other ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet. Here are some ideas:
- 100 percent pure fruit or vegetable juice
- Low-sugar fruit spreads
- Dried fruits such as cherries, cranberries, raisins or blueberries
- Freeze-dried fruit chips
- Pureed fruit in pouches