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Plants – Eat More for Better Health

plants fruits vegetables

Plants – More is Better!

We are learning more every day about how important it is to eat more plants, specifically more fruits and vegetables.  Why is this such of an important part of healthy nutrition?

Whole fruits and vegetables are exploding with vitamins, minerals, soluble and insoluble fiber, antioxidants, enzymes, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals).  These nutrition power houses contain literally thousands of nutrients!  Every time you bite into an apple, you are eating over 10,000 different phytochemicals, all which work together synergistically.  Combining certain plant foods together may be even more beneficial than eating them separately.  Researchers estimate that they will identify up to 40,000 phytochemicals!  While isolated vitamins and minerals may serve a purpose at times, we cannot package these isolated nutrients into a pill and expect to have the same impact as eating them.  Therefore, taking a multi-vitamin pill is not a ‘safety net’ and does not take the place of eating a whole food, plant based diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

More Plants for Better Health!

Research reveals that those who eat the most fruits and veggies are the healthiest.  Therefore, simply eating more plants may help reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and help manage body weight.  A study in 2014 found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day have a 42% lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat less than one portion.

Our bodies cannot produce these phytonutrients so we must obtain them from the foods that we eat.  How much do you need for optimal health?  How many servings of fruits and veggies should you eat every day?  The experts don’t always agree on how many, but they all agree that most do not eat enough.  It also is dependent upon your age, sex, and activity level.  One recommendation is that adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily should consume 1.5–2.0 cup equivalents of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables daily.  While more active adults will need to consume even more.

But according to studies conducted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), we need to do better.  Less than 18% of adults consume the recommended amount of fruit and less than 14% consume the recommended amount of vegetables.  Furthermore, our children also fail to meet recommendations for the daily amount of both fruit and vegetables.  While 40% of children eat enough fruit to meet daily recommendations, only 7% of children eat enough vegetables.

plants fruits vegetables

Ideas to Help You Eat More Plants!

Our bodies are designed to assimilate real, whole food.  It’s also important to eat a variety.  Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients.  Even people who eat a healthy diet tend to eat too much of the same foods.  Be adventurous at your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store.  Or start a garden and grow your own.  Increase your nutrition by trying something new!

Here are some ideas on how you can add more plants to your daily diet.

  1. Add fruits and vegetables to your smoothie.  I add carrots and greens (kale, collard greens, spinach, etc.) to my morning smoothie.
  2. For lunch and dinner:
    • build a big salad
    • stir fry veggie main courses
    • soups and stews
    • steam veggies as a side dish
    • coarsely chop broccoli and other vegetables and add to pasta sauce
    • pile veggies on homemade pizza
  3. Snack on raw vegetables and hummus; smoothies; and whole fruits and vegetables (grape tomatoes, bell pepper slices, baby carrots, etc.) 

Change the way you eat and transform your health!  Eat more plants!  Please share your tips to eat more plants below!

To learn more about these fabulous nutrients: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/phytonutrients/