By Dr. Susan Hamilton
Did you know the average American eats only one to two servings of vegetables per day, around five times below the recommended amount? To maintain proper health, men should eat up to nine servings per day, while women are encouraged to have at least seven daily servings. And it’s the veggie’s unique phytochemicals that promote our good health.
1. More Servings, More Benefits
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Research continues to show that many essential nutrients in fresh produce may protect you from cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and they also give you more energy, help reduce weight gain and may even reduce the effects of aging.
2. Mighty Phytochemicals
Phytochemicals are powerful food factors that elicit profound effects on human health maintenance and disease prevention. Usually related to plant pigments, they are the reason we promote eating your colors. Yellow, orange, red, green and purple fruits and vegetables generally contain the most phytochemicals, with more than 900 found in plant foods.
3. Keep It Crunchy
Once you cook produce, you quickly lose the beneficial qualities. If you want to cook your veggies lightly sauté or steam them – you want to keep them crispy and crunchy. Once veggies lose their crunch, they have also lost their nutritional value.
4. Growing Inspires Eating
Gardening not only provides you with fresh fruits and vegetables, it also encourages you to eat them. Once you are blessed with a bushel basket of tomatoes, you will have newfound interest in finding recipes for tomatoes. What’s more, picking fresh produce from your garden is a great way to get children to eat fruits and vegetables. It IS fun for them to pick their own lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers – and then eat them.