Eat a variety of veggies for a healthier you
The new food guidelines issued by the United States government recommend that all Americans eat between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables each and every day. When you first hear that number, it may seem like a lot, but it is actually much easier than you think to fit that many servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. For one thing, the shelves of the grocery stores are fairly bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, vegetables and fruits are some of the least expensive, most nutrient rich, foods in the supermarket. With all these fruits and vegetables to choose from, it is very easy to make these nutritious, delicious foods part of your daily meals and snacks.
When you take into account how much a serving really is, it is actually quite easy to get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. For instance, the recommended daily amount actually equates to a quite reasonable two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables every day. When you consider how many fruits and vegetables are available, and how low the prices usually are, it is easy to see how easy to reach this daily goal really is.
One great way to get the nutrients you need from fruits and vegetables every day is to take full advantage of the variety of these foods available. Eating the same thing every day quickly becomes boring, so why not pick a variety of fruits and vegetables, in every color of the rainbow and in every conceivable shape, size and texture, to give yourself a varied diet every day.
When shopping for fruits and vegetables, it is important to choose a variety of different colors. This is for more than purely artistic reasons. Different color fruits and vegetables have different types of nutrients, and choosing a variety of colors will help ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need each and every day.
Finding new recipes is another great way to ensure you get those five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Everyone likes to try out new recipes, and these new recipes may just provide the impetus you need to eat all those fruits and veggies.
New recipes can also provide you the important opportunity to try out some fruits and vegetables you have never tried before. For instance, everyone has eaten oranges, but have you tried kiwi fruit or mangoes? How about spinach or kale? Trying new things is a great way to find new favorites while getting the best nutrition available.
Many people mistakenly think that they do not need to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day if they just take a vitamin supplement. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. That is because fruits and vegetables contain far more than the micronutrients identified by science and synthesized in vitamin pills. While these micronutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E are important to good health, so too are the hundreds of other elements that are contained in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These elements are not available in any pill, they must be ingested through a healthy, balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables.
In addition, fruits and vegetables are much less costly than vitamin pills. Fruits and vegetables are very inexpensive, especially when purchased in season and grown locally. In the long run, getting the nutrition you need from the food you eat is much less expensive, and much better for you, than popping those vitamin pills every day.
So don’t forget to get your five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It may seem like a lot, but you can meet this quite reasonable goal simply by including fruits and vegetables as snacks, as garnishes, as side dishes and as meals.
Eat a wide variety of foods for a healthy diet
One of the most frequently cited reasons that diets and attempts at healthy eating fail is boredom. Many people simply do not know how to keep a healthy diet interesting day after day, and it can be quite a challenge.
Given the huge variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and other healthy foods at the local grocery store, however, it is definitely possible to create exciting, nutritious meals that will keep boredom at bay.
Your key to healthy eating
The key to the success of any plan for healthy eating is to eat what you like, but to exercise moderation when it comes to the less healthy foods. Improving your level of health and fitness does not mean forgoing that piece of chocolate cake, for instance. It does mean, however, limiting yourself to one piece. A healthy diet contains all types of foods, including carbohydrates, proteins, and even fats. The key is choosing foods that provide the best combination of taste and nutrition. After all, if your diet consists of foods you hate, you will not stick with it.
The revised USDA food pyramid contains five major food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy, and meat and beans. When choosing foods from these groups, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods from every food group. Doing so will not only give you a great deal of variety and keep boredom from setting in, but it will provide the best nutritional balance as well. In addition the widely known micronutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, etc. all foods contain a variety of macronutrients, like fats, proteins, fiber and water. Though present in extremely tiny amounts, micronutrients are vitally important to good health. That is why a healthy, varied diet is so important.
In addition, when choosing foods from within the various food groups, some choices are naturally better and healthier than others. For instance, choosing skim or 2% milk instead of full fat whole milk is a good way to cut down on both fat and calories. And choosing poultry or lean meat is a great way to get the protein you need every day without extra fat, cholesterol and calories.
Likewise cereals and breads that carry the whole grain label are healthier than those who do not. Even in the world of fruits and vegetables some choices are better than others. For instance, peaches packed in heavy syrup add unnecessary sugar to the diet, while those packed in water or juice provide only good nutrition.
There has been a trend lately to add vitamin fortification to food, and this can sometimes be a good way to maximize nutrition. It is important to remember, however, that proper nutrition comes from a healthy diet, not from vitamin supplements. It is fine to buy calcium fortified cereal, but the bulk of your calcium intake should still come from milk, dairy products and green leafy veggies.
Choosing the best foods
Knowing the five major food groups and how much of each to eat every day is only part of the picture. The other part is choosing the best foods from within those food groups. That means things like choosing the leanest cuts of meat, using egg substitutes instead of whole eggs, choosing the freshest fruits and vegetables, etc.
Even with fruits and vegetables, some choices are better than others. Some fruits, such as avocados, for instance, are packed with fat and calories. It is important to check the nutritional qualities of the fruits and vegetables you buy, and not simply assume that all fruits and vegetables are equally healthy.
One way to maximize nutrition while minimizing cost is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually quite a bit cheaper than those that must be shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles, and they are generally much fresher too. Of course, depending on where you live, there may be varieties of fruits and vegetables that are not available locally, so the northerner in search of citrus fruits will just have to watch the sales and buy accordingly.