10 Tips for Making Vegetables a Health Center on Your Plate

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is an easy and tasty way to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes. If you need to reduce your weight, fruits and vegetables also provide a great way to fill up while cutting your calories.

Aim for a colorful plate. The more colorful your plate of red, green, yellow, purple, and orange fruits and vegetables, the more vitamins and minerals you’re getting in your meals. The United States Department of Agriculture issued a tip sheet with 10 tips for getting the most out of our fruits and veggies:

  1. Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less in season and are at their peak for the nutrients they give us.
  2. Put a green vegetable on your dinner plate. Dark green vegetables we can choose from include broccoli; collards, mustard, and turnip greens; bok choy; spinach, and kale.
  3. Choose vegetables with more potassium. You have a wide choice, including spinach, beets and beet greens, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes and tomato sauces.
  4. Add color to salads. Mix in some carrots; red cabbage; broccoli; yellow, butternut, or green squash; and spinach leaves.
  5. Munch on raw veggies. Carrots, cauliflower, red or yellow bell peppers, and broccoli are great for snacks.
  6. Learn how to prepare and cook vegetables. Visit sites online such as Allrecipes.com, Cooks.com, and the FoodNetwork.com to get hundreds of free recipes. Watch cooking shows on TV and see how some of your favorite cooking personalities prepare veggies.
  7. Buy veggies that are easy to prepare. Buy prewashed bags of spinach, lettuce, carrots, and other veggies.
  8. Add some crunch to your veggies. Toss in your favorite nuts and seeds. Add some red bell pepper. Sprinkle in a few croutons. Have fun with your food.
  9. Stock up on frozen veggies. They’re almost as nutritious as fresh food, and they’re easy to prepare.
  10. Get your vitamins and minerals from food. Forget about supplements unless your doctor recommends them. Focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. You can get all your vitamins and minerals from colorful, balanced, portion-smart meals.

The new government guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov recommend that we fill half our plate with fruits and vegetables.

Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html to see a list of vegetables, organized by color and type, that we can enjoy as part of a healthy eating plan. See the USDA’s Vegetables Gallery, a visual demonstration of recommended vegetable portions.

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Download free tips for helping you and your family eat more vegetables.