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Green Goodness
  • Writer's pictureSylvia Meo, R.D.

More Fruits and Vegetables for Better Heart Health

Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water, yet low in energy (calories), fruits and vegetables offer a whole range of nutrients which play an important role in maintaining optimal health, preventing diseases and slowing down the aging process.

Over the years various scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of fruits and vegetables in preventing different types of cancers, cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, as well as obesity. In fact, these findings resulted in new dietary guidelines to be published and the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables to be increased. Further backing these recommendations, a recent study has linked a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to better heart health.

Sadly, the majority of Canadians consume on average 4.38 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, much lower than the minimum recommended daily servings (7 for women and 8 for men). Yet meeting the recommendations is much easier than we may think! What if I told you that I've always used one basic rule and a simple formula to get me there every day and you could to? No measuring or weighing required!

The Rule: half your plate (or bowl) is filled with veggies for lunch and supper +

1 fruit per meal

The Formula: 1 + 3 + 3 = 7

1 fruit for breakfast = 1

half a plate (2 servings) of vegetables plus 1 fruit for lunch = 3

half a plate (2 servings) of vegetables plus 1 fruit for supper = 3

* the fruit at mealtime can also easily be switched to snack time

Voilà! Just like that we met our minimum daily requirements of fruits and vegetables!

Easy Ways to Increase Your Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables

  • Instead of jams and jellies on your toast, try using slices of bananas or peaches, fresh blueberries, raspberries, and homemade applesauce. You can even quickly whip up a healthy, homemade fruit jam if you have chia seeds on hand, the possibilities are infinite!

  • Add grated zucchini, carrots, beets to your cake or muffin mixes.

  • Add fresh fruit to your pancakes and waffles.

  • Dare to marry the flavors of fruits and vegetables in your meals. A super easy way to do this would be by adding slices of apples, pears, oranges, mangoes, nectarines, or a handful of fresh berries to your salad.

  • Add pieces of pineapple to your chicken brochettes or chunks of apple to your chicken salad and mix cherry tomatoes, celery and green onions into your tuna salad.

  • Blend up fresh berries and mix them into your vinaigrette for a summery twist to your winter salads!

  • Slice a few strawberries, add a touch of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup for a sweet and healthy dessert! Or drizzle maple syrup on top of half a grapefruit and broil it until caramelized. So good!

  • A homemade fruity ice cream can be prepared in no time, anytime of the year. Always keep frozen fruit on hand and when a craving arises pop some fruit in the blender along with a few tablespoons of yogurt and simply whirl it around until you obtain a smooth, creamy texture.

  • When roasting or grilling vegetables always make extra. Store them in the refrigerator and add extra vegetables to your sandwiches, omelets, pasta sauces and soups for an extra dose of color, flavor and nutrients!

  • Turn vegetables into noodles, lettuce into wraps and portobello mushrooms into buns!

  • Or my favorite is turning all my vegetable scraps into broth then blending up all the veggies into a creamy and extra flavorful potage! Such a comforting and nutritious way to start a meal during the colder months. And when the weather is hot, blend up raw cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and onions for an extra refreshing gazpacho soup!

Add color to your life and plate! Eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables everyday.

Looking for more heart health tips?

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