For healthy living, create a rainbow of vegetables on your salad plate

Getting your daily recommendation of veggies is easy by filling your salad plate with red, orange, green and purple vegetables.

We all hear the importance of eating more vegetables and the importance of those foods for our health. The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans eat more vegetables and fruits. There is moderate evidence to indicate that two-and-a-half cups of vegetables and fruits a day can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

With most families leading a busy life, it is important to keep our food preparation time quick while creating a healthy meal. One easy way to meet your daily vegetable intake is to serve a salad brimming with vegetables such as red tomatoes, green broccoli, purple onions and yellow peppers.

There are many different types of greens to make a salad; try arugula, spinach, romaine, bib lettuce or spring greens. All of these greens make a lovely salad base and are nutrient rich containing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, beta-carotene, calcium and folate. Experiment with different types of greens as each type provides a different flavor on your plate.

Another recommendation is to eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, orange and red. Tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli or kale can make a rainbow of colorful veggies you can chose to fill up your plate. The different colors of vegetables provide different nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

Vegetables are naturally low in sodium, fat and sugar while being high in fiber. Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. Fiber-rich foods provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories, which may lower total caloric intake.

Make your salad preparation easy by cutting up your vegetables and greens for the week. Wash, cut and store in the refrigerator that you will consume within a few days. Cut these vegetables on a clean, cutting board and store in storage bags in the refrigerator. Pull out your precut up veggies and create a delicious, fresh, colorful salad. You can also serve the cut up vegetables on a tray and add some ranch dressing or hummus to dip for the kids as a salad substitute if it isn’t one of their favorite foods, yet.

Your family will be successful in reaching their daily vegetable intake of one-and-a-half cups based on age, gender and activity level by adding a salad to your meal. Varying your vegetables and eating a variety of colors each day will ensure that you consume all of the nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle, while also making your plate bright and colorful.

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