Fruits and vegetables have long been associated with a number of health benefits. According to Harvard School of Public Health, a diet filled with fresh produce can:
- Control blood pressure
- Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke
- Prevent certain types of cancer
- Lower your risk of eye and digestive issues
- Help control your appetite and promote weight management
Each piece of produce has unique beneficial properties, so including a variety of plant foods in your diet is the key to well-rounded nutrition.
Of course, not everyone finds themselves reaching for raw fruits and vegetables when hunger strikes. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can begin incorporating more of these fresh foods into your meals.
Start With What You Already Enjoy
It’s easy to enhance the nutritional value of many dishes you already enjoy by adding some fruits or vegetables. For instance, you might:
- Add chopped vegetables to a lasagna, casserole, or meatloaf.
- Incorporate spinach, tomatoes, or mushrooms into your morning omelet.
- Throw some extra veggies into your favorite soup or stew.
- Top your oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt off with fresh fruit.
- Blend fruit or vegetables into a protein smoothie.
Small, daily additions can have a major nutritional impact when you add them up.
Try Something New
While there are more than 1,000 vegetable species on record, the average consumer is only familiar with about 7% of them. Barriers such as limited access to fresh foods and poor local growing conditions can hinder our ability to try a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but so can simple ignorance.
Even if you don’t have a thriving farming community nearby, you could discover a fruit or vegetable you love in the frozen or canned section of your grocery store. Or, you might consider subscribing to a produce delivery service, as many switch out their offerings regularly in order to provide a large variety.
Swap Out Simple Substitutions
In addition to adding vegetables to your favorite dishes, there are many opportunities to swap out existing ingredients with vegetable alternatives. For instance, cauliflower, which is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients, makes for a great pizza crust or “rice” with the help of a food processor. Lettuce “buns” made from romaine leaves can stand in for bread and wraps and help you get plenty of vitamins A and K. Try a lighter take on your favorite pasta dish by spiralizing carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes.
Make Stars Out of Your Sides
In a hurry, a bag of steamed vegetables can serve as a nutrition-packed side at any meal. Yet, when you have the time to do a little more prep work, consider getting creative with your veggie side dishes.
If you’re grilling, kabobs featuring corn, zucchini, and bell peppers with simple seasonings like olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper are an easy addition. Or, roast a tray of vegetables alongside your other oven-made main dish. While vegetables pack plenty of flavor on their own, experimenting with different seasonings, sauces, and marinades can also introduce you to new pairings and help you discover new favorite recipes.
Whether it’s helping you make the right dietary choices, or managing chronic disease, our healthcare team is committed to meeting each patient’s unique wellness needs. To schedule an appointment with a provider in our family medical practice, call 229-723-4313.
Learn More About LifeBrite
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.