Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that our bodies need to stay healthy. It also reduces the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s healthcare costs go toward treating people with chronic diseases.
Most people don’t eat the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, but eating fruits and vegetables is a sound investment in long-term health and can be a very inexpensive part of a healthy lifestyle. Join the millions of people committed to a healthier lifestyle this month during Fruits and Veggies – More Matters® Month.
“Every step taken toward eating more fruits and vegetables and getting more physical activity helps everyone feel their best,” said Christina Schoerner, MS, RDN, LDN, a registered dietitian and health coach at Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well. “Studies show that people who develop healthy food habits are more likely to avoid illness, have more energy and lead active, enjoyable lives.”
For people who have diabetes, Schoerner recommends two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables a day.
“Fruits are packed with wonderful vitamins and fiber, but are also very high in sugar,” said Schoerner. “This is especially important for individuals who have diabetes and are watching their blood sugar levels. Make sure you limit your serving of fruit to the correct portion size (1/2 cup or one medium fruit). For a diabetes-friendly snack, your portion should equal approximately 25 grams of carbohydrates.”
Sometimes getting five fruits and vegetables in a day seems like a difficult thing to do. But it can be as easy as adding an extra serving to meals and snacks — canned, frozen, juiced or raw, it’s all good. To make this a little bit easier, plan ahead.
Make sure fruits and vegetables are a kitchen staple. After bringing produce home, wash and precut it right away. This will make it convenient and easy to grab — no excuses!
Fruits and vegetables that are kept out on the counter where they are visible are also more likely to be eaten first. For those who like to snack during the day, it’s good to include one fruit or vegetable with each snack. For example, have an apple with peanut butter or carrots and peppers with hummus.
Basing snacks around a fruit or vegetable makes it easier to get the recommended five servings each day.
To help you get started, take a trip to the Cotton Mills Farmers’ Market and see the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables available in west Georgia. Currently, Get Healthy, Live Well is working to increase access to healthy foods in west Georgia. This is part of a larger initiative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase access to healthy foods in communities.
“It’s about empowering people and communities,” said Schoerner. “We want to help communities, families and individuals overcome the barriers to good health. It’s about making healthy living easier where people live, learn, work and play.”
To learn more about Get Healthy, Live Well’s efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent chronic disease for residents of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties, visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org.