This guest blog post is by Michele Weinstein, a nutrition blogger and AHA volunteer.
Maya Angelou said, “Do your best until you know better, and then when you know better, do better.” It’s easier said than done to make healthy changes to what we eat. It can help to take small steps toward a new lifestyle or diet plan rather than changing it all at once.
For example, a good goal for the new year is to include more fruits and vegetables in your daily eating routine.
What are some of the benefits of eating more fruits and veggies?
A diet rich in vegetables and fruit is associated with:
- Lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol
- Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Prevention of certain types of cancer
- Lower risk of eye and digestive problems
- Better blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check
- Weight loss
How much fruit and vegetables should you eat per day?
The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal to get the recommended 4-5 cups of each per day. The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal. So, while one more leaf of lettuce on your burger isn’t enough, it does count and can be one tiny step toward your bigger goal.
Try these tips for eating more fruits and veggies.
To be your healthiest self, start building more fruits and vegetables into your eating routine. Here are 12 simple ideas you can try right away.
- Add lettuce, tomato, onions, mushrooms or avocado to your burgers and sandwiches.
- Add more veggie toppings to pizza.
- Add banana, blueberries or other fruits to pancakes or waffles.
- Get creative with salads. Don’t stop with lettuce and tomato. Add in roasted veggies, sliced apples or pears, fresh strawberries, dried cherries… there are countless options.
- Substitute some or all of your pasta with zucchini noodles.
- Grill fruit and top with Greek yogurt for a lighter dessert.
- Freeze fruit or make your own fruit-filled ice pops.
- Add different fruits and veggies to your smoothies.
- Make colorful Frozen Yogurt Bark with Greek yogurt, fruit and nuts for a tasty snack.
- Add shredded zucchini to your home-baked muffins.
- Dip crunchy veggies like carrots, celery, bell peppers, radishes or cucumbers into creamy hummus.
- Serve sliced fruit and berries with a delicious yogurt dip.
You can do this! Make small, sustainable changes and do the best you can every day. If you need help, check out the American Heart Association website for more ways to stay Healthy for Good and more tips to add color with fruits and vegetables.
Michele Weinstein has a degree in Biology and Nutrition from the University of Vermont.