3 Ways Fruits and Vegetables Keep You Healthy
by Kristen Keen, MBA, RD, LDN
Last Updated: November 20, 2020
We have probably heard at some point throughout our lives, whether from a teacher, doctor, dietitian, friends, or family, to eat more fruits and vegetables. But why? How do we accomplish this? As a dietitian, the response is, “why not eat more fruits and vegetables.” Fruits and vegetables contain many glorious health benefits, from the tremendous power of fiber to the positive effects of phytochemicals.
- Fruits and vegetables should be eaten throughout the day as they have a great ability to prevent and reduce our risk for chronic diseases. When we increase our fruit and vegetable intake, we increase the likelihood of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and reducing our risk of heart disease (like heart attack and stroke), which may protect against certain types of cancer.
- Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, sodium, cholesterol, calories and contain no added sugars. They are also naturally high in fiber. A diet high in fiber has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. When we add fiber to our meals, it keeps us feeling full and more satisfied.
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve health outcomes. When we mention variety, we mean having a diverse intake of different types and colors of fruits and vegetables. Keeping a diverse portfolio of fruits and vegetables in our diet helps to incorporate essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals our body needs. The color of fruits and vegetables is where the phytochemicals live.
- Red fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanidins and lycopene which help support the immune system, enhance brain and heart health, and help reduce cancer risk.
- Orange fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene and curcuminoids which optimize eye and skin health and support the immune system.
- White and tan fruits and vegetables contain allicin and tannins which help support healthy liver function, improve hormones, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanidins and resveratrol, which help reduce cancer risk, enhance brain health, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Yellow fruits and vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, promoting eye, brain, skin, and heart health and reducing inflammation.
- Green fruits and vegetables contain chlorophyll and isoflavones, which support liver function, have anti-inflammatory properties, and promote heart and brain health.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend we consume eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily. When incorporating fruits and vegetables, try not to limit yourself to fresh, but also include canned, frozen, dehydrated, and freeze-dried. All are equally healthy and beneficial. Having a variety of fresh and ready to use fruits and vegetables makes it easier to meet the recommended eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Check out American Heart Association’s ideas on incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet and storing your fruits and vegetables here. Let’s focus on what we can add to our diet to increase the quality, rather than focusing on what needs to be removed. It could be as simple as adding extra vegetables atop a thin crust pizza or adding in broccoli, onions, mushrooms, spinach or other vegetables to macaroni and cheese. If you are wondering how to incorporate enough variety into your day or are looking for new meal ideas including fruits and vegetables, reach out to our Kroger Health Dietitian Team.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.