Step 3: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!
You’ve probably heard this since you were a child, but the importance of getting lots of fresh produce in your diet cannot be overstated.
Fruits and veggies are not only delicious, versatile and readily available: they are also chock full of essential nutrients to keep your body healthy and happy. This food group provides you with lots of fiber, which as we’ve mentioned, helps control your cholesterol. Fiber also ensures the elimination of toxins and waste products, and that you have proper bowel functions.
What’s more, specific vegetables and fruits have notable health benefits unique to the food, but often indicated by the colour.
Orange coloured foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene which our bodies convert in vitamin A – vitamin A helps eyesight and healthy skin. Dark leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, collard greens, chard – are full of vitamin C, and have high levels of iron and calcium. Dark berries, such as blueberries and blackberries, have powerful antioxidants, which fight cell damage caused by free radicals. In doing so, they help fight cancers, and slow the visible effects of aging.
The best way to get all the benefits of your fruits and veggies is to eat them daily. The great thing about this food group is how versatile fruits and veggies are presented: raw, frozen, cooked, steamed, stir-fried, boiled..the ways of preparation are endless. Try to prepare them in such a way as so they maintain as much of their nutrients as possible – the more you cook them, the more they lose their nutritive goodness. Raw and steamed are delicious ways to prepare vegetables so that they still provide a punch of benefits; frozen produce also preserve a lot of nutrients.
Try some of these following tips to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
A) During meals, try to always have a vegetable side – at least half of your plate should be vegetables (No, fries don’t count!)
B) Choose fruit for dessert and snacks
C) Eat dark green leafy vegetables every day
D) When preparing produce, be aware that the brighter and darker the fruit or vegetable, the more nutrient-packed it is.
More and more we are seeing a push for organic produce. This is because non-organic produce is grown using potentially harmful pesticides and additives. As it is on the trend, organic produce is becoming easier and easier to find. Try to visit your local farmer’s market every week: you’ll be able to stock up on local, seasonal, organic and delicious fresh produce.