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Fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of valuable nutrients like fiber, vitamins and potassium. You would probably notice very few effects in the short-term. One possible short-term effect might be constipation since fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, although this would depend on the other foods in your diet. Effects of not including fruits and vegetables in the long-term might include risk for a few vitamin deficiencies, such as Vitamin C, which is provided solely by certain fruits and vegetables. A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables are great sources of many vitamins, minerals, and natural substances that may help protect us from chronic diseases including stroke, certain types of cancer and heart disease. Additionally, eating more fruits and vegetables can make a difference in maintaining a healthy weight when they are eaten in place of high calorie, high fat foods. By not eating fruits and vegetables, you may be deprived of those potential benefits.

 

I make "milkshakes" for my 4 year old almost every day and he loves them. It’s made of frozen berries, frozen bananas, frozen rice milk, Naked brand green juice (broccoli/wheat grass/algae), a large handful of fresh spinach, flax oil, carrot juice, frozen cubes of pumpkin and sweet potato, Splenda, milk and Ghirradelli powdered chocolate all in a blender. It tastes like a chocolate berry shake and it’s wonderful. He doesn’t like veggies and it makes me feel better to serve this while I’m waiting for his tastes to mature.

 

We often hear of dietary supplements that promise the nutritional equivalent of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables in a little pill.  The truth is …science is good, but not as good as Mother Nature!  There are over 300 varieties of fruits and vegetables, each of which has a different complement of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals (natural plant compounds, many of which are being studied for potential health benefits).  Each one provides a unique “fingerprint” of compounds that contributes to our overall better health.  Couple that with the fact that whole foods work synergistically with each other during digestion and absorption, perhaps even enhancing the effects of certain nutrients in combination with others, and you have a system that simply cannot be duplicated in a pill.

 If that hasn’t convinced you yet, consider one last thing…taste!  They haven’t invented a supplement pill yet that is as filling or tastes as good as, biting into a ripe, juicy peach…or sipping a refreshing frozen berry smoothie…or creating a mouthwatering salad of lettuce greens, canned beans, tomatoes and sprinkled with dried cranberries and a few nuts.  Bottom line…the wiser—and by far the tastier choice, is to get your fruits and vegetables in creative meals and snacks throughout the day.  Get tips and suggestions right here on our website, http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

 

 

Good for you for taking an active role to better your health—you could probably be a role model for many much younger than you!  Regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan that incorporates lots of delicious fruits and vegetables are great general goals for anyone interested in staying healthy or trying to get fit. Specifics on personalizing these goals to suit you should come from a one-on-one counseling session with either a registered dietitian (RD) or your healthcare practitioner.  They can monitor your progress and offer suggestions as you work toward your personal goals.  Best of luck to you—be sure to check our website (http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org) for lots of tips and suggestions on incorporating colorful fruits and veggies into your meal plan!

 

 

 

Introducing a baby to fruits and vegetables takes care and attention. Some experts believe it is best to introduce veggies first, then fruits because many babies prefer the taste of fruits over veggies and may not care for the veggies after they have eaten the sweet fruits! Remember to introduce one item at a time and wait two to three days before introducing any others in case the baby has an allergic reaction. That way, you can more easily identify the source of allergic reaction. Do not introduce the baby to citrus fruits (such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit) or strawberries until after 12 months of age. These types of fruits cause allergic reactions more than any other. Also avoid fruits and veggies with a peel or very small seeds (such as raspberries and blackberries) until the baby is older. As for fruits and veggies in season, your local farmer’s market can be a great resource for fresh, locally grown produce. Also check out our listing of fruit and veggie information (at http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=164 ). We have a listing of over 40 fruits and veggies with selection and storage tips.

 

The foods that make up a healthy diet for most people are the same foods that people managing with diabetes should choose. That includes choosing a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates, and carbohydrates will impact blood sugar levels more so than protein or fat. So, an important dietary consideration for all people managing with diabetes is to eat at regular times and control the amount of carbohydrate eaten at each meal and snack. If carbohydrate intake is monitored and spread out evenly throughout the day, most any food—including delicious fruits—can be included. You can get more information about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association’s website (www.diabetes.org).

 

Acorn squash and Butternut squash are two types of winter squash. Acorn squash is a good source of Vitamin A and Potassium.  Acorn squash can be baked, roasted, steamed or stuffed. For baking, cut the squash into rings, removing any seeds or fibers. Brush with a bit of olive oil and place a hot oven until the flesh is tender. For roasting, cut the squash in half, remove any seeds or fibers and roast until the flesh is tender. For steaming, cut the squash in half and remove any seeds or fibers, and place in a steamer until flesh is tender. You can also stuff acorn squash with many types of fillings and bake until tender.

Butternut squash is High in Vitamins A and C and is a good source of Potassium.  Baking, steaming or sautéing are good ways to prepare Butternut squash.

To bake the squash, peel the outside then cut open and remove any seeds or fibers. Cut in small chunks, then brush with a bit of olive oil and place in a hot oven until the flesh is tender. To steam the squash, prepare the squash the same as for baking, then place in a steamer until tender. To sautee, prepare the squash the same as for baking, then place in a hot skillet with a bit of oil and cook until tender.

For great recipes on Acorn squash and many other delicious fruits and veggies, go to our Fruit & Vegetable Recipe Section.

 
The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
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