Ever since you were a kid, Popeye and your mom have been encouraging you to eat your fruits and vegetables. They were definitely onto something, and it was never about the power struggle. They wanted you to have the most nourishing foods.
Fruits and vegetables provide a gold mine of gifts for your body. They contain the macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and water your body need to thrive.
American dietary guidelines recommend filling half your plate with produce to promote overall health. But what are the exact health benefits you get from fruits and vegetables?
Four ways fruits and vegetables improve your life
Fruits and vegetables contain protective nutrients that defend against everything from cancer to diabetes and heart disease. They fight against free radicals, keep your immune system humming, and give your body the nutrients it needs to work correctly.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, in place of trans and saturated fats, sharpens your mind. Dark leafy greens and berries, in particular, offer memory-enhancing benefits you’ll never get from a bag of potato chips.
Add years to your life
Lifestyle factors, such as eating nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, play a significant role in extending your life. In Okinawa, where people live longer than anywhere else on earth, residents eat an average of seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Improve your skin
Your nutrition has a direct impact on the quality of your skin. Your skin needs the vitamins and antioxidants in produce to fight many causes of aging, feed the cells, and radiate from the inside out.
Doctors and researchers agree that no single fruit or vegetable is more or less important for your overall health (sorry, Popeye!). You need a range of foods in your diet to get all the necessary nutrients for optimal health.
That’s why most popular dietary advice you come across recommends you eat all the colors of the rainbow. By doing so, you’re more likely to cover all your body’s nutrient needs.
Even though we know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, most of us don’t get enough. Americans fall sorely short of the recommended 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables recommended.
Thankfully, we have a few ideas to help you get more fruits and veggies in your diet.
Tips to help you eat more fruits and vegetables
- Plan your meals and snacks around fruits and vegetables rather than meat. Protein should only make up ¼ of your plate whereas produce should be the main focus.
- Branch out and try a new fruit or vegetable from the grocery store or farmer’s market every week. Then, hop on Pinterest to figure out how to prepare it.
- Keep experimenting with vegetables you think you don’t like. For example, if the thought of nibbling kale makes you cringe, try sauteeing it with garlic and olive oil. You might figure out you actually like it!
- Include smoothies in your weekly regimen. Smoothies are an easy way to sneak extra fruit and veggie servings into your diet. Frozen cauliflower, frozen fruit, and spinach mix particularly well into smoothies.
For more ideas on how to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your meals, check out this article.