Meigs Health Matters: Eat your vegetables

Most people know that eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, but most of us still aren’t getting enough. This September, WIC is proud to participate in “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month.”

Eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you lower your risk for many chronic diseases, maintain or reach a healthy weight, and keep your body strong and active.

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive system happy.

Fruits and vegetables are lower in calories which can replace the high calorie foods that lead to weight gain.

Fruits and vegetables are the main providers of nutrients including vitamins A, C and K, potassium, fiber and magnesium. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help you feel healthy and energized.

Why else should you eat MORE fruits and veggies?

Fruits and veggies add color, texture and appeal to your plate. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal and snacking occasion.

When choosing fruits and vegetables, think variety and think color. Dazzle your kids with color and create a rainbow on their plate. Eating fruits and veggies in a variety of colors — red, dark green, yellow, blue, purple, white and orange — not only provides eye candy for your kids but also gives them a broad range of nutrients.

How can you create a rainbow on your plate? Here are a few ideas to try. Make a tropical rainbow fruit salad with fruits of each color: oranges, pink grapefruit, mango, papaya, kiwifruit, bananas, and purple grapes. Sauté your own medley of mixed vegetables using each color: red onions, carrots, corn, jicama, broccoli and black beans. Try a spinach salad with dried cranberries, canned mandarin oranges and red onion with your favorite vinaigrette. Make confetti coleslaw: shredded green and red cabbage, grated carrots, julienned kohlrabi and finely chopped red and yellow peppers. Try some different toppings on your pizza: eggplant, pineapple, red peppers, spinach or broccoli.

What are some ways to eat MORE fruits and veggies?

Plan for fruits or vegetables to be the center of the plate, and then add protein and grains. When you add meat or cheese, think of it as flavoring.

Replace half the meat. Substituting half the meat in a recipe with beans and/or vegetables will reduce fat and increase fiber, as well as save you money.

Plan your meals around fruits and vegetables that can go a long way. Plan to include fruits and vegetables for quick snacks, soups and casseroles that you can eat a couple of times during the week.

Limit or avoid expensive snack foods, desserts and soft drinks that provide little or no nutrition value for your money. Compare the nutrition value of what you can purchase for $1.

A 4 oz. bag chips provides calories from fat, salt, while 1 pound of carrots provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. 2 small cookies provide calories from fat and sugar, while 3 small apples provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. 2 liters of soda provide calories from sugar, while 32 oz. of 100% orange juice provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Buy in season. Some are less expensive when they are in season. Also keep in mind that all forms of fruits and vegetables are nutritious, so canned and frozen forms are okay too.

These are some of the produce in season during the fall:

Acorn Squash, Asian Pear, Barbados Cherries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts’ Butter Lettuce; Buttercup Squash, Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Crab Apples, Cranberries, Delicata Squash, Endive, Garlic, Ginger, Grapes, Guava, Jalapeno Peppers, Jerusalem Artichoke, Jujube, Key Limes, Kohlrabi, Kumquats, Muscadine Grapes, Mushrooms, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, Radicchio, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, and Turnips.

For more ideas, recipes, games and coloring pages, visit:

Remember, eating more fruits and veggies can be fun – and it’s worth it.

WIC is a nutrition education program that promotes good health by providing nutritious supplemental foods to pregnant, post-partum or breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5. We boost the use of fruits and vegetables in the diet by providing $11.00 worth to women and $8 worth to children, plus jars of fruits and vegetables to infants.

For more information, visit us at 112 E. Memorial Dr., Pomeroy, Ohio; or give us a call at 740-992-0392.

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Meigs Health Matters: Eat your vegetables

By Wendy McGee

Contributing columnist

Wendy McGee, RD, LD, is an employee of the Meigs County Health Department.