A healthier Michigan starts with eating our veggies

According to a study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control, the average Michigander eats about 1.6 vegetables a day.  In comparison, people that reside in California eat more than 1.8 vegetables a day, leading the country for highest intake along with Oregon and New Hampshire.  Although the amount of fruits and vegetables that we need to eat varies by individual, for optimal health, our goal should be much higher.

Having a diet that is stocked with fruits and vegetables is vital for a healthy body.  Eating foods high in nutritional value, like fruits and veggies, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases.  The vitamins and minerals found in veggies and fruits build good health, as well as improve skin, hair and nails.  Fiber, found in many veggies and fruits, can also aid in weight loss by keeping the body fuller longer, and keeping digestion processes running smoothly.  Fruits and veggies may also facilitate weight loss by providing high nutrient and low calorie alternatives for junky snacks. For example, just swapping one 1 oz. bag of nacho chips for a ½ cup of baby carrots three times a week would save 16,380 calories a year, which equals out to about 4.6 pounds!

Maintaining a balanced diet can be fun and easy, especially during the summer when plenty of veggies grow ready to eat.  To get started, try adding some more fresh produce into your diet by picking out some veggies and fruits that are in season, since they are most likely to be the freshest.  Pack them into smoothies, snacks, pizza crust and even sneak them into cake!  Encourage kids to eat more veggies and have fun together in the kitchen by throwing in new additions into favorite dishes.

The best thing about fruits and veggies is that they’re versatile; you can put them into just about anything you’re eating and have a fabulous new recipe.  Try out some new summer meals and don’t be afraid to add in fruits and veggies.

Although Michigan has an average of eating only 1.6 vegetable servings every day, make it your goal to increase intake to meet your daily requirement.  In order to reap all the benefits of fruits and veggies, you first must get enough of them.

Photo credit: PepOmint

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