Eat more fruits and vegetables!

We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

According to the experts in the nutrition field, we should be eating between 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Eating more fruits and vegetables can play a role in the prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancer. These are some of the leading health issues in the Latino community. It may be simple to consider eating more fruits and vegetables to help in our well-being, but why don’t more of us do it?

Let’s take it back for a minute. Getting your greens in is highly important especially because fruits and veggies are low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. But what is the real difference between fruits and vegetables? Are they all just the same thing?

Based on information from the Mayo Clinic, here’s the botanist’s answer to the question: “a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from a flower. It's also the section of the plant that contains the seeds. The other parts of plants are considered vegetables. These include the stems, leaves and roots — and even the flower bud.”

If you take that information and apply it to what we know as fruits and vegetables, the following are technically fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Peapods
  • Corn kernels
  • Cucumbers
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin/squash
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tomatoes

Vegetables include:

  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes

This is based on scientific reasoning, however when we start talking about cooking styles and tastes, fruits and vegetables become even more distinct. Vegetables are typically less sweet than fruits and at times more savory, served along with the main dish. Fruits, as you may have guessed, are usually sweeter or tart and served as a dessert or snack. They also contain more sugars than most vegetables.

As Latinos we find that we eat many vegetables, however they might be fried or boiled which many times lessens the amount of nutrients left in the actual food. Eating fruits and vegetables in the rawest, most natural form is the best way to reap all the benefits.

When snacking, try to fill those voids with crunchy fruits and vegetables. That way, your body will feel satisfied and you can hold off until your next full meal. Try apples, pears, nectarines, baby carrots, celery or cucumber. With that cucumber, add a little salt, lime and maybe chile for flavor!

Also, it helps if you eat a vegetable at every meal and fruits for dessert to meet your daily required intake of the green stuff.  

Finding out what’s in season may lead you in a search. Besides going to farmer’s markets to find local fare, the vegetables and fruits there are in season. Visit one or take a look at the list below to get a good idea as to what you should be eating and when. For the full list of all seasonal foods, visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s Seasonal Produce Guide.

Winter

Spring

Summer

Fall

Apples

Apples

Apples

Apples

Avocado

Apricots

Apricots

Bananas

Bananas

Asparagus

Avocados

Beets

Beets

Avocado

Bananas

Bell Peppers

Brussels Sprouts

Bananas

Beets

Broccoli

Cabbage

Broccoli

Bell Peppers

Brussels Sprouts

Carrots

Cabbage

Blackberries

Cabbage

Celery

Carrots

Blueberries

Carrots

Grapefruit

Celery

Carrots

Cauliflower

Kale

Collard Greens

Cantaloupe

Celery

Leeks

Garlic

Celery

Collard Greens

Lemons

Lettuce

Cherries

Cranberries

 

We want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments below if you have tips to eating fruits and vegetables or what stands in your way of getting the recommended daily intake.

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