Are You Getting Enough Fruits and Vegetables Daily?

Sure, an apple a day can keep the doctor away. But did you know that eating at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily can also reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke? According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, consuming 2 to 6 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables is optimal.

Start boosting your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables with a few easy eating tips from Fruits and Veggies: More Matters, The National Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Anytime

  • Put fruit and vegetables at the top of your shopping list.

  • Buy many kinds of fruits and vegetables when you shop, so you have plenty of choices and you don't run out. Buy fresh, frozen, dried and canned.

  • After shopping, use soft fruits and vegetables such as bananas, peaches and tomatoes first, because they go bad easily. Save hardier varieties such as apples and acorn squash or frozen and canned products for later in the week.

  • Increase portions when you serve vegetables and fruits.

  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table or counter.

  • Keep packs of applesauce, raisins or other dried fruit in your car or office.

  • Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables on the top shelf of the refrigerator.

  • Don't smother vegetables or fruits in high-calorie, high-fat sauces or glazes.

  • Avoid overcooking or boiling vegetables, because this may reduce their nutrient content. The nutrients end up in the cooking water, which is usually discarded.

Breakfast

  • Start your day with a piece of fruit.

  • Add chopped fruit to your breakfast cereal. Try sliced bananas, apples or dried fruit, such as raisins or apricots.

  • Top toast with mashed strawberries or bananas.

  • Add sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms and asparagus to an omelet.

  • Make a fresh-fruit smoothie for a fruit-packed breakfast on the run.

Lunch

  • Put at least one salad vegetable in your sandwich. Try tomato, lettuce, cucumber, grated carrots or avocado.

  • Eat a piece of fruit for dessert. When fresh fruits aren't in season, choose canned fruit packed in juice or dried fruit, such as apples and apricots.

  • Spoon some fresh salsa over a ham or chicken sandwich before adding the top slice of bread.

  • Choose vegetable toppings for pizza.

  • Add fruits and veggies to prepared salads. For example, add grapes, raisins or apple slices to chicken salad; chopped onions, green peppers and carrots to tuna salad.

  • Add berries or sliced bananas to plain low-fat yogurt for a sweet treat.

  • Snack on raw veggies dipped in salsa.

Dinner

  • Have one or two vegetables besides potatoes with your dinner. A simple way to add vegetables is to buy frozen packaged combinations of them: succotash or peas and carrots, for instance.

  • Add vegetables to soups, sauces and casseroles. For example, grate carrot and zucchini into spaghetti sauce.

  • Add onions, green peppers and diced tomatoes to a bean burrito or quesadilla.

  • Top fat-free ice cream, ice milk or sherbet with sliced bananas, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.

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