n Apple A Day... June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month
By: Trish Hill
The weather is balmy and Mother Nature is in her bounty with an abundance of produce available just in time for National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. From all the tasty varieties, think bright colors like green, red, orange, yellow and purple which are richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Just picked is often best because they contain the highest amount of nutrients and dietary fiber. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious raw. Just wash, slice and serve. Easy and yummy!
It is recommended that we have between five and nine portions of fruits and vegetables every day, yet it is estimated that the average American eats less than half of that amount. Consuming a diet filled with fruits and veggies can improve overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer and obesity.
An alarming fact is that Tennessee has the fifth highest percent of overweight and obese children in the United States. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that our little ones eat nutritious foods and the correct number of calories. Aside from increased activity, eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables may be key in maintaining a healthy weight.
Sometimes it is not always easy to get kids to eat their vegetables. When my children were younger, I had one who loved eating vegetables. She ate so many carrots her skin actually started turning orange, a condition called carotenemia. She also ate whole onions just like an apple. My other child was the typical picky eater who turned up her nose at practically any vegetable. So what are some ways to help children meet the guidelines for vegetables and fruits?
1. Be a role model. Children will often eat many of the same foods the adults around them do. So be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables, too!
2. Don’t buy junk food treats. Bag up servings of fresh vegetables and fruits and offer as refreshments and munchies. This is also a great idea for adults during a snack attack.
3. Allow children to pick out fruits and vegetables to grow in your garden or take them to your local grocery store and let them pick out their favorites.
4. Let them mix several different fruits together in a salad or make a mixed vegetable salad with or without the lettuce. Be creative.
5. Encourage them to try new fruits and vegetables with meals. Reward them for at least taking a few bites. You never know, they may end up loving Brussels sprouts!
So will eating your spinach turn you into a super hero like Popeye the Sailor Man? Not really, but if you eat your daily allowance of vitamin packed fruits and vegetables you will probably feel like one.
1. Strawberries are a member of the rose family and the only fruit with their seeds on the outside.
2. Apples are 25% air which is why they float and it takes about 36 apples to make a gallon of apple cider.
3. Blueberries won’t ripen once they are picked and were made into grey paint by mixing in milk by early American colonists.
4. Eating about 20 tart cherries can help reduce a headache and it takes about 250 cherries to make a pie.
5. Tomatoes are actually a fruit but were deemed a vegetable by the U.S. Supreme
Court in 1893 and are eaten more than any other vegetable or fruit in the U.S.
6. Carrots have large amounts of Vitamin A which can help prevent night blindness and bring in approximately $300 million a year for U.S. growers.
7. One bell pepper contains more Vitamin C than an orange. There are approximately 2,000 varieties of bell peppers in the world.
8. Spinach was first cultivated over 2,000 years ago in Iran and during World War II. French soldiers suffering from blood loss were given a mixture of wine and spinach juice.