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Spring is great time to add more fruits and vegetables to diet

Spring is a great time to focus on healthy eating as locally grown fruits and vegetables start becoming available.

“Of course, fresh produce is available year-round in many stores, but in-season fruits and vegetables can often be more flavorful, less expensive and come in more varieties than winter offerings,” said Dr. Graham A. Colditz, associate director of prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “In-season produce usually starts to appear in early spring but really begins to hit its stride as we move further into May and beyond. From beets and broccoli to strawberries and spinach, there are a lot of spring in-season choices, and those grow every week.”

A diet rich in plant foods has many benefits beyond adding variety to meals. It can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and possibly even depression and other conditions.

Official recommendations are for adults to eat about 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day.

“Really, for most of us, we don’t need to get too caught up in the specifics,” he said. “Only about 10\ percent of adults in the United States eat the recommended amounts. So, a good starting goal is to begin to add more fruits and vegetables to our meals and snacks, and then build slowly toward the recommendations.”

These simple tips can help us add more fruits and vegetables to a diet:

  • Try to make a fruit or vegetable part of every meal.
  • Keep cut-up carrots or cucumber or bell pepper at the front of the refrigerator where they are easy to see and grab for a snack.
  • Keep fruit where it’s easy to find and grab it on a counter, on a desk or in a backpack.
  • Dice vegetables such as zucchini into soups, sauces, even batters. It’s a simple way to add more vegetables to meals that your family may not notice.
  • Try a new cookbook that focuses on plant-based meals. Finding a couple of new recipes that you really like can make it a lot easier to add more produce to a weekly menu.
  • Visit farmer’s markets. They can be great places to stock up on fresh favorites and maybe even try something new, all while supporting area growers and sellers.

“Springtime, with its in-season produce, can be a fantastic time to focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to our routines and keeping that going throughout the rest of the year,” Colditz said. “It’s your health. Take control.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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