TDOH urges eating more fruits and vegetables for better health
Nashville, TN – While Tennesseans eat more vegetables than residents of any other state, Americans nationwide are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than they were in 2000, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Department of Health is reminding everyone of the important role of fruits and vegetables in a healthful diet as part of the observance of National Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month.
“We are pleased that Tennesseans continue to recognize the benefits of including vegetables in their daily diets, and this survey indicates we are making good choices,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “However there is still work to do. For a balanced diet, we need to consume five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day. I encourage everyone to look for creative ways to incorporate more of these items during meal and snack time.”
CDC released state-by-state data this month from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System on fruit and vegetable consumption.
Tennesseans rank above the national average for eating vegetables, with 33 percent of respondents reporting they ate vegetables three or more times daily. Nationwide, only 26.3 percent of respondents ate at least three vegetables a day. When asked about fruit consumption, 26.4 percent of Tennesseans reported eating fruit two or more times each day. The national average for fruit consumption was 32.5 percent. The survey showed fruit and vegetable consumption have declined for both Tennessee and the nation since 2000.
Fruits and vegetables are a valuable source of nutrients important for overall health. Including a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks helps maintain a healthy weight and may reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease. Remember all forms count as you work toward adding more to your diet: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. Strive to fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Here are some simple ways to get more fruits and vegetables into your daily meals:
- Add fruit to hot or cold cereal, or try a fruit smoothie for breakfast.
- Sweeten tea with 100 percent fruit juice instead of sugar.
- Add vegetables to a sandwich or wrap. Consider lettuce, tomato, cucumber and peppers.
- Choose fruit instead of candy for a sweet snack. Craving crunch? Try raw veggies like carrots, celery and radishes.
- Pack a 100 percent juice box in your child’s lunch instead of soda or a sports drink, and choose juice instead of soda for your own lunch.
- Try a baked potato instead of fries or chips.
- Add dried fruits or chopped vegetables to grain side dishes, such as rice and couscous.
Tennesseans have the added benefit of living in a state with a rich agricultural tradition and numerous sources of fresh, locally grown produce. To find a farmers’ market in your area, visit www.picktnproducts.org. Many of these markets are open throughout the year.
Fruits and Veggies – More Matters Month is a national public health initiative sponsored by the Produce for a Better Health Foundation. For more information, including recipes and tips for getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.