How many Americans do you think eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day? Fruit?
Not many, according to a new report “State of the Plate” by the Produce for Better Health Foundation. In fact, only 6% reach the target for vegetables and 8% for fruit. And this includes juice and fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.
Most Americans know that veggies and fruits are valuable health promoting foods, but clearly that’s not enough to get these cancer fighting powerhouses into our diet.
Although several groups have increased fruit consumption and a few have increased vegetables, older adults are eating fewer fruits and vegetables compared to just 5 years ago. Those aged 65 and over are taking in almost 10% less than in 2004.
For older Americans, a healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one key to preventing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Risk for all these diseases increases as we age, but it is never too late to lower your risk.
Here are some ideas for increasing your vegetables:
1. Start your dinner with a green salad or cup of vegetable soup.
2. Fill your lunch and dinner plate with vegetables first – and make it cover at least 1/3 of the plate.
3. Keep a container of carrots, celery, peppers and broccoli cut up and available in the refrigerator for snacks and to add to lunch.
4. Stock your freezer with bags of frozen veggies – they’re easy to microwave or quickly steam to go with lunch or dinner.
5. Go for “Meatless Monday” and try some new veggie dishes.
Check out Recipes from the AICR Test Kitchen.