National Fruit and Vegetable Month

The month of June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. This campaign helps bring awareness to the health benefits that are associated with eating a variety of fruits and veggies with the overarching goal for Americans to increase their consumption of produce. Currently, 1 in 10 Americans eat the recommended amounts of fruits and veggies.1  Together, we can bring awareness to the need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Find out more by reading some frequently asked questions answered by our dietitians! 

Are there some fruits and vegetables that are healthier than others? Of course, but not in the way that you may think. When selecting your produce, always look for vibrant, bold colors as well as a variety of colors. In the 1980’s there was a big movement to have Americans eat a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables. Having a rainbow of colorful produce in your diet ensures that you’re consuming an array of phytonutrients and vitamins. 

More so, we only get certain vitamins from specific colors of produce. A good example of this is vitamin K. Green produce is rich in vitamin K, but the amount of the vitamin varies greatly. To get the most out of your vegetables, opt for deeper hues of green – think iceberg lettuce versus spinach. While both are green, and thus contain vitamin K, the deeper green spinach contains a larger amount of vitamin K when compared to the light color of iceberg lettuce. 

I don’t like many fruits or vegetables.  Many Americans haven’t acquired a taste for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables but enjoy the small quantity they do like – and that’s totally okay! In this situation, there’s a great opportunity to see if the vegetable (or fruit) liked comes in more than one color. For example, carrots seem to be a well-liked veggie, so why not enjoy them in purple, yellow, white, and orange? Eating a rainbow of one specific produce item still adds health benefits due to each color included. Purple produce is higher in antioxidants called anthocyanins, yellow produce contains higher levels of vitamin A, whereas white produce has powerful compounds called polyphenols. . Even though white produce may not seem as vibrant as other, vitamin-rich containing fruits and vegetables, produce that lacks in color still provides the body with necessary nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins. 

Is frozen produce as healthy as fresh? Frozen produce is harvested at the peak of freshness and flash frozen to lock in nutrients. , Whether your produce is fresh or frozen, you can still get all the health benefits associated that come along with your fruits and vegetables. . When shopping for frozen vegetables, make sure to read your ingredient labels. The only ingredient in your frozen produce should be the chosen fruits and vegetables. Sauces or flavorings added to frozen produce can increase calories, sodium, and sugar content. Hesitant to buy fresh produce because it will go bad? If you have fresh fruit that you’re unable to use in time, we recommend washing, removing stems/peels, cutting if necessary, and freezing for your morning smoothies! This way you remove the need for ice and can pack more nutrients into your cup.

How much fruit and vegetables should I aim for? The current Dietary Guidelines recommend 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. 

“Cups” of fruits and vegetables is referring to cup equivalents. This means a cup equivalent is the amount of the edible portion of a fruit or vegetable (e.g., minus pits, inedible seeds, or peels) that will fit in a standard 1-cup measuring cup. Be mindful that some foods are more concentrated, and some contain more water or are more “airy”. A cup equivalent for lettuce and other raw leafy vegetables is 2 cups whereas raisins and other dried fruits, it is one-half cup.

Are there any fruits or vegetables that I shouldn’t eat? Yes! If you’re allergic or sensitive to a fruit or vegetable, if you don’t like them, if they’re moldy, if they’re expired or if they’ve been cleaned with bleach or another harmful chemical. Other than that, there’s no “bad” fruit or vegetable for a healthy individual. Some disease states and conditions may limit specific fruits and vegetables for possible food and drug interactions like dark, leafy greens, and vitamin K. If you have specific questions about food and drug interactions make sure to speak with your doctor or a dietitian in your area! 

 

How can I fit more fruits or vegetables into my day?  Make it fun! You want to make sure you actually enjoy what you’re eating! You can try to include beet and butternut squash “zoodles” in your stir fry or favorite pasta dish. Use riced cauliflower in dishes that call for rice Blend up fruit for a delicious smoothie or acai bowl. Try pickling your veggies and add as a garnish to dishes, or our favorite... use microgreens! Microgreens are tiny powerhouses of nutrients that may have up to 40 times higher levels of some vitamins and antioxidants than regular-sized plants.

National Fruit and Veggie month helps encourage everyone to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, young and old alike! Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that help us develop, and keep us maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make it a goal this month to add an additional serving of fruits and vegetables to your day! Unsure where to start? Nutrition for Longevity not only offers meals that are packed with over six servings of fruits and vegetables per day but we also offer organic Produce Boxes that can help aid in your fruit and vegetable consumption. 

Whether you grow your own, shop local, or get your produce from Nutrition for Longevity, commit to prioritizing your health, and adding in more fruits and vegetables this month! 

 

References: 

  1. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html. Published November 16, 2017. Accessed April 15, 2021. 
  2. Xiao Z, Lester GE, Luo Y, Wang Q. Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Aug 8;60(31):7644-51. doi: 10.1021/jf300459b. Epub 2012 Jul 30. Accessed May 14, 2021.