Both the FDA and NCI are encouraging the produce industry to include this message on a variety of fruits and vegetables. The message, however, can only appear on foods that meet the healthy food criteria. A healthy food has these characteristics in each defined serving:
- Less than 3 grams of fat.
- Less than 1 gram of saturated fat.
- Less than 60 grams of cholesterol
- Less than 360 milligrams of sodium
- No added sugars, sugar-containing ingredients, or sugar alcohols.
Why is this important to you? Because our bodies need fruits and vegetables, they are critical to promoting good health. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Compared with people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts as a part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced their risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
Fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow-- but the real beauty lies in what's inside. To get a healthy variety of different colors for your body, look for all the colors of the rainbow and in doing so, you supply your body with a wide range of valuable minerals, vitamins, fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. Some examples: green beans, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, purple plums, red watermelon and onions.
If your life is busy, then fruits and vegetables are the perfect companion for you to grab and go. Apples, oranges and bananas, for example have their own packaging, very little to throw away when you are done and the benefits of consuming them is priceless.
Add more color to your life, grab a fruit or veggie, your whole body will benefit! Enjoy.
- Stir low fat or fat free granola into a bowl of low fat or fat free yogurt. Top with sliced apples or berries.
- Have fruit as a mid-morning snack.
- Add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to your waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal or toast.
- Top toasted whole grain bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas.
- Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to your egg or egg white omelet.
- For a smoothie, freeze your fresh fruit or buy them by the bag. Throw in the blender, for a cool refreshing, nutritionist breakfast drink or a recovery drink after your morning workout.
- For a change, dehydrate your fruit and experiment to see what fruits you like and it will be easy to place in a bag to snack on throughout the day.
- Whole, raw nuts are a healthy snack that provide essential oils to help protect your arteries and heart BUT, take only a handful, since they're loaded with calories. Always check your labels.
Michele Batz is a 30-year veteran in the physical education field, with a master's and PhD in holistic nutrition and a master's in Administration. She's been a Fitness writer for the past 7 years to help motivate not just in the physical sense but also the creative. The arts with movement is an element she is working on in her classes and with the help of CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Children's Health) to combine all elements of leading a healthy, active life. CATCH involves the whole school community, physical education teachers, classroom teachers, cafeteria, parents and the community. This is a wonderful way to educate our youth to fight children's obesity. Michele enjoys her life with her husband and son, living in Illinois. Visit her blog at mbatz.blogspot.com.