Fruits and vegetables are a convenience for busy people

October 10, 2007|By LYNN LITTLE

Who has time to think about what they're eating?

Everyone, especially with the variety of convenient fruit and vegetable choices on the market today.

As more families feel increased time constraints from jobs, family and other commitments, a healthful diet is easy to overlook. However, it is possible to meet the demands of our busy lives and still make healthful food choices.

A way to start is by eating enough fruits and vegetables each day. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest consuming enough fruits and vegetables, while staying within your caloric needs. The guidelines also recommend choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. The recommended daily amounts vary, depending on your age, sex and physical activity level.

Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables as part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet might help reduce blood pressure, manage weight and reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.


Here are some ways to help you and your family:

· Have fruits and veggies on hand. It's hard to choose grapes over cookies for a snack if they aren't around. Studies show that households that have fruits and vegetables available for meals and snacks will eat more of them. Put a few extra fruits and vegetables into your shopping cart this week.

· Drink fruit juice instead of soda or coffee in the car. One cup of 100-percent fruit juice can be considered a cup of fruit. Try to keep the amount of fruit juice you drink to less than half of your daily fruit intake. You can keep 8- to 12-ounce cans or bottles in your refrigerator, chilled and ready to go. Or you can buy them at gas stations and fast food chains. Bring with you fruits and vegetables that are in the can or can be eaten by hand. Try these convenience foods: apricots, grapes, apples, nectarines, bananas, orange segments, broccoli, pears, carrots, plums, celery stalks, strawberries and cherries.

· Take advantage of easy options such as precut, cleaned and packaged fresh fruit and vegetables. Frozen, diced or canned fruits and vegetables are also easy to use.

· Buy low-fat yogurt, fruit juice and fresh, canned, or frozen fruit to blend a quick smoothie in the morning. Drink it at home or pour it into an insulated cup to keep it cold and take it with you.

· Buy precut vegetables (packaged or from the salad bar) for brown bag lunches and try dipping in low-fat salad dressing.

· Buy frozen bags of berries, peaches or melon balls and use as needed.

Visit and for ideas for including more fruits and veggies in your daily diet.

What counts as a cup of fruit or vegetables?

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice

  • 1 cup cooked or canned vegetables or fruit

  • 2 cups raw leafy vegetables is equivalent to 1 cup of vegetables

  • 1 cup dried beans or peas, cooked

  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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