When it comes to nutrition, we’re often bombarded with debate on the best way to eat, but one thing virtually all scientists, nutritionists, and health experts agree on is to eat more fruits and vegetables! For good reason—eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet can help lower the risk of several chronic diseases.
Despite knowing about these positive health benefits, many of us find it difficult to increase our fruit and vegetable intake consistently. And the recommended 9 to 13 servings per day can seem impossible. Fortunately, it really doesn’t take that much effort to boost your intake and enjoy the numerous potential health benefits. Here are four ways to help inspire you to bring more of the rainbow into your life:
- It’s easy to get wrapped up in a rut, eating the same foods out of convenience or familiarity. Yet eating a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables provides a broad array of phytonutrients that support numerous bodily functions. I recommend rotating plant foods every three days to help reduce food intolerances and allergies to get the full complement of nutrients as you prevent food ruts.
Enjoy the savings.
- Choosing a plant-based diet can save you money as well as health. One study published in Europe PMC found that those who bought more fruits and vegetables were rewarded with fewer hospital bills and medical costs.1 The folks who spent their cash on animal-derived foods, on the other hand, experienced a higher number of days in the hospital with the accompanying increased medical costs. It’s well worth it to spend more time exploring the fruit and vegetable section, engaging your senses, and indulging in the beauty of the wide spectrum of colors from the fruits and veggies in your cart.
- A handful of studies suggest eating vegetables and fruits can also improve mood and behavior. One study, for example, found in the American Journal of Public Health, revealed that an increased intake of fruits and vegetables led to greater happiness, satisfaction with life, and well-being.2 To build on those positive benefits, take time to infuse your meals with mindfulness and gratitude for the gifts from nature and people to grow these delicious foods.
Go beyond fruits and vegetables.
- The same phytonutrients that give plants their colors and provide many benefits can be found in other foods as well. Fill out the rest of your plate with nuts, seeds, non-gluten-containing whole grains, and sprouted legumes. And kick up the flavor with health-enhancing herbs and spices.
Start small. Keep consistent. Pick one of these four and bring more color into your life. As I often say, eating colorfully means living a colorful, vital life in body, mind, and spirit!
- Lo YT, et al. Elderly Taiwanese who spend more on fruits and vegetables and less on animal-derived foods use less medical services and incur lower medical costs. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(5):823-833.
- Mujcic R, et al. Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in consumption of fruit and vegetables. Am J Public Health. 2016;106(8):1504-1510.
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