By Carol Peng, MS, RD, CSP, CHOC clinical dietitian
Let’s celebrate June as it’s National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. As the summertime sun gets warmer, vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables fill up our supermarkets and kitchens. Needless to say it’s the best time to consume more fruits and vegetables. Here are five reasons to load up on produce:
Fruits and vegetables not only have beautiful rainbow colors, but they are also packed with different flavors and textures. It is also very easy to add them to our daily meals. For example, add berries to yogurt, waffles or pancakes in the morning; improve sandwiches or salads with shredded vegetables; and incorporate diced or shredded vegetables in muffins, stews, lasagna or casseroles.
Different kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables are always available. Buy fresh produce in season to save money. Some popular summer produce are peaches, watermelon, tomato, blueberries, zucchini and corn. If budget allows, pre-cut and pre-washed fruits and vegetables add even more convenience for a busy family to prepare a meal. Always keep a bowl of fruits on the kitchen counter or cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator for healthy snacks.
Lower disease risk
According to the American Cancer Society, many researchers find that a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of lung cancer, oral pharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and colon cancer. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention concludes that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Low in calories
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat, and they contain plenty of fiber and water to satisfy hunger and prevent overeating. These foods are a great tool for weight management. Fiber is also very good for our digestive health.
Essential vitamins, minerals
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that are vital to our physical health. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and maintains teeth and gum health. Vitamin A keeps our eyes and skin healthy and protect against infection. Folate helps our body form red blood cells and reduces risks of neural tube defects in babies. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, as well as maintaining normal function of muscles, nerves and some glands. Iron is needed for healthy blood and normal functions of all cells in our body. Magnesium is important for bone health and is involved with more than 300 enzymes in human metabolism. Potassium helps to keep healthy blood pressure.