If eating the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables seems like an impossible feat – relax, fitting in fresh produce is easier than you think.
Norman Regional registered dietitian Rachel Blundell says making a few simple additions to your diet can help you eat healthier and increase your produce intake. Blundell said it is important not to get caught up in the number of servings you are eating, but to focus on adding additional fruit and vegetables to your diet.
Fruit and vegetables are nutrient-dense foods that help reduce your risk for certain chronic diseases, can help manage your weight and also have important vitamins and minerals. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, only 6 percent of Americans eat their recommended veggies and only 8 percent eat the recommend target of fruit each day.
So how can you reach your goal?
Blundell said to remember that all forms of fruit and vegetables count - whether they be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Fruit juice (100 percent) counts as well, but lacks the fiber that helps us feel full. So juice may not be your best option if you’re looking to lose weight, Blundell said.
“Snacks are another great way to get nutrient rich foods like fruit and vegetables,” Blundell said.
You can satisfy many snack cravings with healthy options. For instance, craving crunch? Choose vegetables like carrots and a low fat dip like hummus or light ranch. Looking for a sweet treat? Try fruit in yogurt. Fruits such as bananas and strawberries can be dipped in chocolate, and frozen grapes make a great frozen snack in the summer heat.
Also keep in mind what constitutes a cup or a serving. An easy visual aid is the size of your fist, which in most cases is about a cup. Other examples of a cup or a serving including one small apple, 12 baby carrots, two stalks of celery or eight strawberries.
For some types of fruit or vegetables a serving will be more or less than a cup. A serving of dried fruit is about ½ cup. A serving of leafy salad greens is two cups for one serving size.
Ranch dressing is perhaps one of the most popular condiments in Oklahoma, especially for vegetables and salads. Blundell suggests making a healthier ranch dressing by making the dip with Greek-style yogurt for added protein.
Regardless of how you reach your goal, remember that more matters when it comes to fruit and vegetables.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.