- The learner will be able to identify benefits to eating healthy foods.
- The learner will be able to identify nutritional serving recommendations, as stated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and MyPyramid.gov
- The learner will be able to identify simple ways to add more fruits and vegetables to their daily diet.
Mom always said, "Eat your fruits and veggies!" but why?
A poor diet, combined with physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to the overweight and obesity epidemic being seen today in America. Even in the absence of being overweight, poor diet and physical inactivity are associated with major causes of morbidity and mortality. According to the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2010), 72% of men and 64% of women are either overweight or obese. Health problems resulting from an unhealthy diet, besides obesity, include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even certain types of cancer. The State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009), revealed only 14% of adults and 9.5% of adolescents eating an adequate number of fruits and vegetables everyday.
But what benefit do fruits and veggies really provide?
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases including stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. For example, spinach (think Popeye!) is a great source of vitamin A, which keeps the eyes and skin healthy and protects against infections (CDC, n.d.). Rather than drinking pop loaded with caffeine for energy, fruits and vegetables provide a natural source of energy to keep you going. Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood, as well as for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. Substituting fruits and vegetables for higher-calorie foods can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
So...how do I eat healthy?
Three simple pieces of advice to follow include 1: aim for balance in what you eat; 2: eat a variety of foods (mix it up!); and 3: practice moderation. Additionally, MyPyramid, developed by the USDA (n.d.), has developed easy to follow nutritional guidelines:
- Women: 6 oz (per day)
- Men: 7 oz
- at least half should be whole grains
- ex., 1 slice of bread, 5 whole wheat crackers, 1 cup of cereal each = 1 oz
- Women: 2 cups
- Men: 3 cups
- Women: 1.5 - 2 cups
- Men: 2 cups
- ex., 1 small apple, 1 large banana, 1 large orange each = 1 oz
- Women & Men: 3 cups
- ex., milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheeses, etc.
- Women: 5 oz
- Men: 6 oz
That sounds hard. What are some easy ways to include fruits and veggies in my diet?
- Stir low-fat granola and/or fruit into a bowl of yogurt.
- Make your morning or afternoon snack a piece of fruit or some veggies.
- Add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal or toast.
- Add broccoli, green beans, corn, or peas to a casserole (or in Minnesota - hot dish!) to pasta.
- Have soup! many soups are full of vegetables!
- Add lettuce, tomato, onion, and/or cucumbers to sandwiches.
- Store cleaned, cut-up fruits and vegetables in the fridge at eye level and keep a low-fat or fat free dip handy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Fruits and vegetable benefits. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). State indicator report on fruits and vegetables, 2009;
National action guide. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Food groups in MyPyramid. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from