It is recommended that everyone eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The government’s MyPlate recommends that half your plate be filled fruit and vegetables each time you eat. Now is a great time to start doing that. It is easy to eat fresh produce, eat it fresh, and get it local. Fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients that everyone needs.
Buying more fruits and vegetables locally makes it easy to stay on track and keeps local farmers in business. To find a farm, simply go to Local Harvest and enter a zip code. Local Harvest lists farms, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and farmers markets. Living Hope Farm, a CSA in Harleysville has just harvested tomatoes, sweet peppers, muskmelon, potatoes, kohlrabi, mixed greens, eggplant, fresh cippolini onions, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and tomatillos.
Eating more fruits and vegetables provides nutrients like Vitamin C, Potassium, Fiber, Folate, Magnesium, Vitamin A, and Phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are the great chemicals in plants that work as antioxidants in our bodies and fight cancer. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides fiber to fill us up without a lot of calories. Research has shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables help to lower blood pressure, reduce cancer risk, and can improve cardiovascular health.
The more colors of fruits and vegetables included in the diet, the better. The Dietary Guideline’s Choose MyPlate recommends that children get a 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruit a day and teens and adults should get about 2 cups. A cup of fresh fruit or 100% juice or ½ cup dried fruit counts as a serving. Children should get one to two cups of vegetables. Teens and adults should try for two to three cups of vegetables each day. Eating a variety of colors ensures that a variety of nutrients are included in the diet.
To make eating all of these fruits and vegetables delicious, try different combinations. For instance, sauté onions, garlic, zucchini, and yellow squash in olive oil. When the squash is just about cooked, throw in some diced tomatoes and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. It is a rainbow of taste, color, and nutrition on a plate.