Choose fruits and vegetables as a nutrient-dense food

Eat fruits and vegetables as a nutrient dense food to get many of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, without adding lots of calories.

Fruits and vegetables are a primary food choice when you are looking to buy nutrient dense foods (foods high in nutrients and low in calories). Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and should consider adding more to their diet. Why is adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet important? Fruits and vegetables provide for many nutrients we often under consume including nutrients such as folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C and K.

Research from the United States Department of Agriculture has shown an association between the person who eats the recommended amount of at least five fruits and vegetables a day and a reduction in the risk of developing a chronic disease. Specifically, eating at least two and a half cups of fruit and vegetables a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. This amount may also protect us against certain types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are a good choice of food for managing weight. If fruits and vegetables are eaten without added sugar, sauces or fats, they are relatively low in calories.

It is important to get most of your fruit from whole fruit sources instead of fruit juices. Research has shown children above the age of 2 typically do not get the recommended amount of fruit intake. Children ages 2 to 18 years of age and adults ages 19 to 30 years are shown to get over half of their fruit intake from a fruit juice.

For a fruit juice to be considered a true fruit juice, the label must read “100 percent fruit juice” otherwise it is considered a sugary drink. Drinking limited amounts of 100 percent fruit juice can be a part of a healthy diet, but if it is the only way fruit is being consumed it can lead to extra calories in our diet. It is better to get the majority of your fruits as fresh fruit, canned, frozen or dried. If you buy canned fruit, you should look for a label that reads “packed in fruit juice or light syrup” to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Fruits and vegetables are a key way to reduce calories and get the essential nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.

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