The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) is promoting the consumption of vegetables and fruits for health. Health means decreasing the risk of certain common but debilitating conditions, including type 2 diabetes, diverticulitis and other digestive issues, hypertension and most notably, cardiovascular disease. Have a Plant™ is PBH’s new behavioral science-based call to action.
Since nearly 90% of Americans fall below fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations1, the PBH suggests the following:
- Join the Have a Plant™ Movement by enjoying fruits and veggies you know and love, whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100% juice.
- Follow PBH’s social channels to learn creative tips/tricks to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily diet.
- Take the Have a Plant™ pledge: commit to adding one or more fruit and or vegetable to your routine every day this month: try something new, and experiment. Although this is National Fruit and Veggie Awareness month as recommended by PBH, any month is a good month to make this pledge.
- Spread the word on the importance of consuming multiple types of fruits and veggies, since no single vegetable or fruit can supply all your nutrient needs.
The importance of eating fruits and vegetables cannot be overstated. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to reap the multiple benefits of including a rainbow of plant foods into your diet. Studies show that people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are more likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases, as mentioned above. Here’s why:
• Vegetables are low in fat and calories and none have cholesterol.
• Vegetables and fruits are important sources of potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and Vitamins A and C.
• Diets rich in potassium may help maintain healthy levels of blood pressure.2 Sweet potatoes, white beans, tomato paste, sauce and juice, beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils and kidney beans are rich in potassium.
• Fiber helps reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease, as well as help ensure proper bowel function. High-fiber foods include peas, broccoli, figs, berries, all types of beans, artichokes, avocado and pears.
• Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells.3 Foods rich in folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, seeds and nuts, and fortified foods, such as whole grain breakfast cereals.4
• Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections. Vitamin A is found in orange and yellow vegetables and fruits as well as broccoli, spinach and most green leafy vegetables.
• According to a study conducted by Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals, all fruits and veggies contributed to the benefit but green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and mustard greens most strongly associated with a decrease risk of cardiovascular disease.5
• Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. It also aids in iron absorption. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, cauliflower, green and red peppers, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and winter squash.
• A randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health showed fruit and vegetable rich diets lowered blood pressure even more when some of the carbohydrates were replaced with healthy unsaturated fat or protein.6
Have a Plant™ works well with an Active Wellness lifestyle and it’s never too late to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Remember that Kenzen® Super Ciaga is rich in antioxidant fruits, and Kenzen® Total Vegan Drink Mix can help you and your children with four of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables in each scoop!
5, 6 www.hsph.harvard.edu