Celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month with your family in June. There is so much focus in June on eating these healthy staples because they are readily available in all parts of the country. Therefore, this month is the perfect time to explore how you can improve your diet to improve your health.
How Much Fruits and Vegetables Should I Eat?
You may feel proud of yourself for substituting French fries with a side salad at a restaurant, but you actually need a good amount of fruit and vegetables to maintain your health. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, choosemyplate.gov recommends from 1 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables and from 1 to 2 cups of fruit daily, depending on the person’s age and gender.
A common misconception that people have is that fruits and vegetables are created equal; therefore, they end up adding more fruits into their diet, forgetting about the vegetables.
Unfortunately, most Americans are eating 50 percent less than the daily recommendations of daily fruit and vegetables, as reported in 2012 study of 1,057 adults for the International Food Information Council Foundation, as reported by USA Today
What are the Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables have many health benefits; “veggies and fruits (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer,” states The Huffington Post.
Various types offer different benefits, but it’s easiest to differentiate them by colors. Food with an orange pigment, like sweet potatoes and carrots, have beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that helps keep skin looking young and aids in our body’s fight against certain diseases.
Foods with a red pigmentation, such as tomatoes, have lycopene, which is an antioxidant that promotes prostate health. Broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage, which have green pigmentation, have glucosinolates, amino acid derivatives that contain sulphur, that are believed to help prevent cancer. Green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, have folic acid, iron and vitamin C, all essential vitamins to help with your health.
Tips on Adding More Fruit and Vegetables to Your Diet
Add a salad to one of your meals, breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast add some arugula leaves under an over medium egg, and enjoy a delicious breakfast salad. Or, instead of butter, spread some avocado on your toast! For lunch or dinner, make a side salad or make salad the main event! Don’t just stick to lettuce, tomatoes and onions; make your salad fun by adding fruits such as watermelon or apples, and toppings, such as sesame seeds or pecans!
Another great tip for eating healthy is to make a smoothie. You can throw a variety of fruit and vegetables in there, such as spinach, kale, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, avocados, etc. Here is an easy to follow recipe for a cucumber, lemon and honey smoothie.
Instead of opening a bag of potato chips, pack healthy snacks for when you’re on the go. Options to consider are almonds, carrots, strawberries, apples, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Grow Your Own
One of the most fun ways to eat more fruits and vegetables is to grow your own. You don’t have to be an expert gardener to plant easy to grow varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, etc. You also can purchase apple and orange trees and plant them in your front or backyard, as well. This way, you will have access to fresh produce without having to go to the store. Another benefit is that you can control what fertilizers and mixes you add to your plants to avoid harmful toxins that are often found on conventional produce. From genetically modified (GMO) seeds to harmful fertilizers, vegetables and fruits in stores may contain toxins that are hurting your body
Spring is typically the time to start planting your crops, and June is the season to harvest some of those fruits and vegetables. Not everything in your garden is ready to be harvested, but “ asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, spring cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, salad onions, peas, early potatoes, radish, spinach and chard,” are, according to harvesttotable.com. Click here for tips on harvesting each one of those items.
To help your fruit and vegetables grow faster and increase overall production and yield, add PlantCatalyst® to your gardening routine. A small amount added to your fertilizer or nutrients will reduce your fertilizer use by up to 50 percent, saving you money without sacrificing yield. This product is specifically designed for plants, and is made with all natural ingredients without any harmful toxins, unlike many conventional gardening products.