Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well
Learning the basics for eating fruits and veggies
Janet Hackert, regional nutrition and health education specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension
For a healthier diet, the American Dietetic Association recommends starting with the basics, and that means eating plenty of vegetables and fruits every day!
- Fresh produce is great because nutrient density is highest as close to harvest as possible. Unfortunately fresh produce is not always available or affordable. Frozen, canned and dried are alternatives that are more available and often more economical.
- When choosing frozen vegetables, avoid added fat by selecting veggies without sauce or with low-fat sauce. Frozen fruit is sweet and delicious — to make the most nutritious choice, check the label to see that it is unsweetened.
- There are lots of canned options for vegetables and fruits. Check the label to make the best choices. Choose fruit that is labeled, “packed in its own juices,” “packed in fruit juice” or “unsweetened” to avoid too much added sugar. For canned vegetables, the thing to watch for is added salt. Watch for “no salt added” or “reduced sodium” on the label.
- Dried fruits and vegetables is another way to fit healthy choices in. Because the water has been removed from dried produce, the nutrients are more concentrated. That means it takes a smaller amount of dried fruit or vegetable to get the same amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber and calories. As with canned and frozen fruits, choose dried fruits that are not sweetened for a healthier choice. Dried fruits are sometimes treated with sulfite to aid in preservation. Sulfite can cause allergic reactions in some people, so check the label if this is a concern for you.
Build a healthy eating plan on a good nutritional foundation. Plan to consume at least 3 to 5 cups of fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables daily. For more information and lots of great ideas to eat right, go to the American Dietetic Association’s website at http://www.eatright.org/public/.
Last update: Monday, March 07, 2011