Fruits and vegetables can be the key to good health. According to the Center for Disease Control, "... Those who eat more generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as a part of a healthful diet are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stoke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers." Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which the body uses for various jobs including, but not limited to, fighting off illness, good vision and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Children need to be exposed to fruits and vegetables early in life and they should be included with every meal. Five servings of fruit or vegetables should be seen as the minimum for your child each day. The rainbow is a great model for the types of vegetables and fruits to include in your child's menu. Each color also represents a nutrient and or vitamin you kids need so try to have something from each color available.
Five tips to help your child eat their five:
1. Sample different fruits and vegetables together. Most farmers markets provide samples.
2. Pack them as a snack, instead of cookies or other sweets.
3. Make them fun. PB and apples, Ants on a log (celery, peanut butter, and raisins), etc.
4. Eat the rainbow. Have foods of all colors.
5. Add them to meals. Fettuccini with broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes with tacos or burgers, chicken with vegetables, etc. Be creative.
Avoid Junk food!
Signs of junk food are foods high in saturated fat, salt, or sugar. Junk foods often have very little nutritional value and lack vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients instead only adding large amounts of calories. Junk food - or, as I refer to it in front of the the kids, "sometimes foods" - are foods that may be seen as a treat or a quick option to eat. If these foods are made into a daily part of anybodies diet they can increase the risk for obesity and many obesity-related illnesses.
For more facts on fruits and vegetables, visit: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, www.letsmove.gov or www.choosemyplate.gov.