You probably know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can be important for a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that focusing on VARIETY is also important? Different colors and groups of fruits and vegetables provide us with many different vitamins and minerals. By eating a variety, we make sure we get all the nutrients we need to help keep us heathy. Some important ones to keep in mind:
Red and orange vegetables can help reduce the risk of heart disease and keep our eyes and immune system healthy. Some choices would be tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, collards and spinach are power packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate, which helps to prevent birth defects. They also provide many important minerals and antioxidants that can reduce the risk for cancer.
Beans, peas, and lentils are exceptional options that can be found in both the Vegetable and Protein food groups. They contain potassium and fiber, which helps maintain a normal heart rhythm and aids our digestive system. They also give us protein, zinc and iron which is important for muscle and blood health, making them an ideal plant-based substitute for meat. Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, split peas, and lentils are all great alternatives or additions to any meal.
Other colors and groups of fruits and vegetables are important too. Blue and purple, such as blueberries, eggplant and red cabbage can help maintain a healthy brain and heart. Citrus fruits, like grapefruits and oranges give us vitamin C, helping our immune system and in repairing bodily tissues. Cauliflower, potatoes, and mushrooms, while not as colorful, are high in potassium. Potassium can help with blood pressure, muscle health, and nerve health.
We get many different nutrients from eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. This can provide us with the health benefits we need to stay healthy throughout our lives.
- Eat Smart Move More North Carolina. (2016). EFNEP’s Families Eating Smart and Moving More – Choosing More Fruits and Vegetables. [Lesson plan]