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Fruits and Vegetables!

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Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition and wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension.

Did you know June is fresh fruit and vegetable month? We shed light on this topic because despite the positive health benefits of eating these foods, few adults meet the recommendations. The USDA recommends 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. This may not sound like a lot, but only 1 in 10 adults get enough of these superfoods each day! As we learned last month, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Produce is also a core component of the MIND diet that you heard about last week.

So, what does one serving look like? One cup of fruit is considered 1 cup raw, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit, ½ cup dried fruit, or 1 cup of 100% fruit juice. One cup of vegetables counts as 1 cup of raw, cooked, or canned vegetables, 2 cups of leafy salad greens, or 1 cup of 100% vegetables juice.

Fruit and vegetable juices provide vitamins and minerals but lack the fiber that whole fruits and vegetables have. Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. It is also important for proper bowel function and can prevent constipation and diverticulosis. For this reason, try to limit juice to 8 oz per day to help get the fiber you need.

Fruits and vegetables have so many other health benefits and contain nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and so much more! Consume a rainbow of colors to ensure you're getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body requires. If consuming more produce seems like daunting endeavor, try adding more plant-based ingredients to foods you already enjoy like pizza and egg dishes. You can also think of the 5 S’s to increase your intake:

1.      Soups

If you have leftover vegetable scraps from other dishes, add them to a freezer bag and store them in your freezer. Once your bag is full, you can make your own vegetable broth! This also helps cut down on food waste.

2.      Sandwiches

Enhance your sandwiches and burgers with colorful options like microgreens, pickled onion and roasted red peppers. Consider ditching the bread and opting for a lettuce wrap packed with your favorite toppings or try substituting bread with two slices of tomato for a refreshing twist.


3.      Stir-Fry’s

Mix rice, a protein of your choice, lots of shredded vegetables, and a savory sauce to make a delicious stir fry!

4.      Salads

Make a salad with a variety of fresh fruits or vegetables. Add strawberries and blueberries over spinach or have a cup of mixed fruit salad as a side. Look at the salad recipes provided in the resources for some fresh ideas.

5.      Smoothies

There’s nothing easier than sipping your way to 5 servings a day! You can even add some spinach or cucumber to boost your vegetables intake. These are an easy grab-and-go option for busy mornings or afternoon snacks.

Now is a great time to stock up on local produce. Are you looking for some fresh finds to satisfy your culinary needs? Check out a farmers’ market near you. With more than 8,000 farmers markets across the country this shouldn’t be a problem. Illinois ranks third in the U.S. for the number of farmers markets so get out there and support local. This week try adding a fruit or vegetable at every meal and aim for a rainbow of colors for a myriad of benefits!

For links to recipes and the Find Food Illinois website, visit wvik.org/wellness. Or you can subscribe to Wellness Wake-up Call today wherever you listen to podcasts and never miss out on these weekly wellness tips.


· https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-plan/results/2000-calories-ages-14-plus

· https://eat-move-save.extension.illinois.edu/eat/recipes?keys=&field_menu_category_target_id=9#recipe-grid

· https://eat-move-save.extension.illinois.edu/#food-finder

· https://www.ilfma.org/find-a-market/

Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.
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