Why should we choose to boost veggies and fruit?

Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

Vegetables and fruit contain many nutrients that protect our health and fuel our bodies. Nutrients provided by vegetables and fruit include carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and some B vitamins such as folate.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that children:

  1. Eat a mix of different vegetables and fruit each day. Kids should eat at least one dark green (like broccoli, romaine lettuce, green peas and spinach) and one orange vegetable (like sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash) each day.
  2. Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Vegetables that are steamed, baked or stir-fried are better choices than deep fried.
  3. Have whole vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Fruit juice contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as soft drinks.

Recommended fruits/raw leafy vegetables per day:

  • 2-8 years old:   4 to 5 servings (1 fruit or ½ cup)
  • 9 to 13 years old:  6 servings (1 fruit or ½ cup)
  • 14 to 18 years old, and 51+:   7 to 8 servings   (1 fruit or ½ cup)
  • 19 to 50:  7 to 10 servings (1 fruit or ½ cup)

Benefits of eating vegetables and fruit

Different types of vegetables and fruit contain different kinds and amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre; for instance:

  • Choosing dark green and orange vegetables and fruits more often can help increase your intake of iron as well as folate and vitamin A.  These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer, as well as having high levels of fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
  • Greens have very little carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol.
  • The dark greens supply a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects.
  • Plant foods contain carotenoids which are a form of vitamin A. Carotenoids are found in dark green, yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruit. Vitamin C is important for your health. It plays many roles in the body, including:

 

  • Helping the body absorb iron,
  • Helping the body heal wounds,
  • Acts as an antioxidant,
  • Protects cells from damage and thereby may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers

Therefore, we need to ensure kids eat a mix of both vegetables and fruit of many different colors.

Fresh vegetables and fruit alternatives

Dried, frozen and canned vegetables are generally as nutritious as fresh. Look for frozen, canned and dried vegetables or fruit without any added salt or sugar. They can be an affordable way to get the recommended daily servings.

Click below to view or download our Veggies and Fruit Infographics

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For more information, contact Healthy Kids Community Challenge Coordinator: Myriam Castilla at myriam.castilla@bcchc.com

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