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Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
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Research continues to reveal that almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables.  They are critical to promoting good health.  To ensure you get the amount recommended, you need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat every day.

Current research suggests that fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that helps protect us from chronic diseases.  Those who eat more generous amounts as part of a healthy diet are more likely to have reduced risk of:

•    Stroke
•    Cardiovascular disease
•    Certain cancers

Daily nutrients should come primarily from the foods we eat.  Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals and other naturally occurring substances to help protect us from chronic disease.  Although you can find the same vitamins and minerals in supplements, some of the other natural occurring substances may not be present in a supplement.  However, for some people, it may be necessary to also include fortified foods or supplements.  Fortified food contains a nutrient in an amount greater than what is usually found in that food.  You should never rely totally on supplements for daily vitamins and minerals.

Weight loss strategies substituting fruits and vegetables for higher-calorie foods can be very effective.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to eat while on-the-go.  They are a natural source of energy and give the body essential nutrients to help keep us healthy while living busy lives.

To ensure a healthy variety of fruits and vegetables, think color.  When you eat fruits and vegetables of different colors you give the body a wide range of valuable nutrients such as:

•    Fiber
•    Folate
•    Potassium
•    Vitamins A and C

Some examples include:

•    Green spinach
•    Orange sweet potatoes
•    Black beans
•    Yellow corn
•    Purple plums
•    Red watermelon
•    White onions

Try new fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

A serving of fruit or vegetables is usually a cup.  A cup refers to the common measuring cup.  One cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 100% vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup from the vegetable group.  One cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the fruit group.

By Connie Limon
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