Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dear Americans, Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!

Jefferson County Public Health is continually working to increase knowledge about balanced, healthy diets and active living, beginning very early in life and continuing across the lifespan. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and leading an active lifestyle can drastically improve overall health. For example, did you know that eating more fruits and vegetables can increase a person’s intake of essential nutrients and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers? Plus, fruits and veggies can also help manage body weight, as they are a filling, healthy substitute to other unhealthier and more energy-dense foods. So, then, why are only 13.1% of American adults eating enough fruits (based on the national dietary recommendations) and only 8.9% eating enough vegetables?
Being active and eating healthy is paramount to achieving a healthier weight and minimizing the negative health consequences of being overweight or obese. Spurred by sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets, it is now estimated that more than 1/3 of American adults are obese and 17% of all children and adolescents are obese in the United States. New efforts are needed to build consumer desire and demand for fruits and vegetables through more reasonable and competitive pricing, as well as promotion of the associated health benefits of a balanced diet in child care centers, schools, grocery stores, communities and at work.
Are you ready to make some healthy diet changes right away? The American Heart Association includes the following among their tips for increasing daily intake of fruits and vegetables:

§  Fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables
§  All produce counts: canned, dried, fresh and frozen
§  Compare food labels on canned, dried and frozen fruits and vegetables and choose the lowest sodium and added sugar content
§  Add a fruit or vegetable salad to lunch or dinner
§  Eat raw vegetable sticks instead of chips
§  Carry dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or dried apricots for snacks
§  Add chopped vegetables like onions, garlic and celery when preparing soup, stew, beans, rice and sauces

For more information on nutrition resources available through JCPH, visit the Nutrition Services and Women, Infants and Children webpage

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