The American diet does not typically include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. According to the CDC, 90 percent of Americans skimp on plant-based nutrition from fruits and veggies, so if this applies to you, you certainly are not alone!
The problem is that this low intake of plant-based foods may put Americans at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health issues.
What does adding plant-based food mean?
At the recent Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, one of the hot topics of discussion was the perception gap around what plant-based eating is. Most Americans tend to think it’s eating plant-based alternatives for dairy, fish, and meat.
Nutritionists and dieticians refer to plant-based eating as adding more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans to their diet
Health benefits of plant-based eating
Fresh vegetables and fruit are a rich source of many of the nutrients your body needs to heal itself. They’re loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, and other health-boosting compounds. So, add a few servings of vegetables and/or fruits into your daily diet to help you feel your best.
Another one of the key benefits of vegetables and fruits is the protection that they can provide from the development of many common diseases. By getting your daily dose of vegetables and fruits, you can decrease your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
Fruits and vegetables also decrease inflammation and have proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To get the most benefits, eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, and collards.
Keep your options open
You should include vegetables and fruits of all different flavors and textures. Despite what many people think, it is possible to be creative in the kitchen and still reap the essential benefits of vegetables and fruits.
In the mood for strong flavors? Try olives, onions, or peppers. Looking for something milder? Go with corn or mushrooms.
And for those times when you have a sweet tooth, reach for grapes, pineapple, or a delicious peach.
A Convenient Snack
Unlike other foods, some fruits and vegetables can make a quick, convenient, and easy snack. Keep a supply of cleaned, raw vegetables in the fridge. When you’re in a rush or on the go, keep it healthy by grabbing a stick of celery, an apple, or a banana on the way out the door.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. It may take a while to get used to a different way of planning meals, but these nutritious additions to your meals might just become some of your favorite things to eat. And you’re sure to love the health benefits.
If you need help with improving your diet and reaching your health goals, find a Nutrition Response Testing practitioner near you. They can help you discover what your body needs, and how to adjust your meal plans to make the most of fruit and vegetables in your diet.