Fruits and veggies are great sources of multiple essential vitamins and nutrients. Eating a rainbow of foods ensures that your body is getting all of the important nutrients it needs in order to stay healthy.
Which Fruits & Vegetables Provide the Most Nutrients?
Sources of vitamin A
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mango, cantaloupe, apricots
- Spinach, collards, turnip greens
Sources of vitamin C
- Strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe
- Broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes
- Spinach, romaine lettuce, turnip greens
Vitamin C is a great immunity booster which may help fight cancer. It is also necessary for the growth, development, and repair of body tissue.
Sources of folate (folic acid)
- Bean, peas, peanuts
- Spinach, romaine lettuce, mustard greens
Your body needs folate in order for your body’s cells to divide as well as break down and create new proteins. Adding more folate to your diet may help prevent heart disease and stroke as well as aiding in depression.
Sources of potassium
- Sweet potatoes, cooked greens, winter squash
- Bananas, plantains, dried apricots or prunes, orange juice
- Beans and lentils
Potassium helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Keeping plenty of potassium in your diet may protect against stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.
How Much is Enough?
|Food Group||Children ages 2-6 and inactive women (about 1,600 calories)||Older children, teen girls, active women, inactive men|
|Teen boys, active men (about 2,800 calories)|
|Grains – bread, cereal, rice, pasta||6||9||11|
|Dairy – milk, yogurt, cheese||2-3||2-3||2-3|
|Protein – meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts||2||2||3|
These facts and figures might bring the food pyramid to mind, which is a very helpful framework for your diet. But merely knowing how many servings of each food group you should have means nothing if you don’t know what constitutes as a serving.
How Big is a Serving?
Servings are a little easier to keep track of when you’re eating whole foods but be sure to pay attention to serving sizes on packaged foods as well. Always measure out the proper serving size instead of taking the whole bag of snacks to the couch.
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal
- ½ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
- 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
- ½ cup of other vegetables cooked or raw
- ¾ cup of vegetable juice
- 1 medium apple, banana, orange, or pear
- ½ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
- Watch out for fruit that is packed in corn syrup or other sugary substances
- ¾ cup of 100% fruit juice
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of yogurt
- This is another food that con contain high amounts of added sugar and fat so be sure to read the nutrition facts
- 1 ½ oz of natural cheese
- 2oz of processed cheese
- 2-3oz of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
- 1 cup of cooked beans or tofu
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of nut butter
- 2/3 cup of nuts
If you’re not a fan of fruits and veggies it may be a good idea to add them to your diet in unsuspecting places such as smoothies, soups, stir fry, salsa, omelets. Or try replacing carb heavy ingredients with vegetable-based substitutions such as veggie noodles, riced cauliflower, cauliflower crust, or vegetable-based wraps.