We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us and are a main part of a healthy diet. But, what all do fruits and vegetables have to offer. Why should we aim to eat at least 5 servings and how can we improve our overall consumption?
Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day can help lower blood pressure, reduce our risk for heart disease and stroke, reduce our risk for some types of cancers, and help with digestive problems (Harvard). With thousands of different varieties of fruits and vegetables in the world and with each one containing different vitamins and minerals, it's important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Let's take a look at the health benefits of some of our most popular fruits and vegetables.
Bananas are the most popular fruit, and we each eat around 26 pounds of bananas every year. Bananas are packed with nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, folate and more. Bananas are 75% water and with their fiber content, can help with digestive health. The potassium in bananas may help reduce heart disease, blood pressure and reduce risk for certain cancers.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Apples are a great source of Vitamin C and fiber. They also carry a variety of antioxidants. Apples may help with acid reflux, diarrhea or constipation. They can also help strengthen the immune system, promote gut health, protect your blood vessels and heart and protect cells from oxidative damage (WebMD).
One of the nation's most popular vegetables, broccoli is packed with nutrients. Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin C and one serving can provide you with 84% of your recommended daily allowance. It also a good source of Vitamin K, calcium, folate and many potent antioxidants. Broccoli may help reduce inflammation, protect against certain types of cancers, reduce risks for heart disease, aid in digestion, promote bone health, and may slow mental decline (healthline).
Americans love potatoes, consuming around 50 pounds per person each year. And, while some people may avoid potatoes due to their higher level of carbs, they are packed with nutrients that can be part of a well balanced diet. A medium russet potato will give you 25% of your daily potassium, 35% of Vitamin C, 30% of Vitamin B6, four grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein (Are potatoes healthy?). Potatoes are packed with antioxidants and can help boost your immune system, lower risks for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Potatoes are very filling and versatile but make sure to leave the skins on! (healthline).
With fruits and vegetables providing us with many important nutrients that help strengthen our bodies and lower our risks for many chronic illnesses, who wouldn't want to eat more a day. Here are some tips on how to get at least five servings a day. Add a serving of fruit and/or vegetables to every meal. Snack on fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Prep ahead; it is so much easier to snack on vegetables that are already washed and cut up. Try making fruit and vegetable smoothies. Go online. The internet is packed with recipes for vegetables and fruits.
Whatever way you want, aim for at least 5 servings per day.