The Natural Beauty of Fruits and Vegetables
Your good health lies at the end of a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. There is an abundant array of colors, shapes, sizes and textures in the fruit and vegetable world. Crunchy apples and celery, creamy bananas and butternut squash, crispy jicama and radishes—an endless variety of produce is out there!
And they're so good for us! Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in fat and calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. An average adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for 4.5 cups (9 servings) of fruits and vegetables a day.
Choosing Fruit and Vegetables
When shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, let your senses be your guide. Select those that look fresh and appealing. Leafy greens should be vibrant, with no hints of yellowing or wilting. Root vegetables like carrots, turnips and beets should be hard.
Ripe fruit ought to be plump and wrinkle free. As a general rule, naturally hard fruits and vegetables will keep longer than naturally soft ones.
Use your nose to tell if a pineapple is ripe-there should be a strong sweet smell at its base. A ripe cantaloupe or honeydew will also have a sweet smell at its base and will be slightly soft. Citrus fruits should feel heavy.
Fruits and vegetables that are deeply colored throughout - such as spinach, carrots, peaches and berries - tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals than paler ones, such as potatoes and corn.
Optimize taste and nutrition by buying fresh fruits and vegetables when they're in season. The price will be the lowest then, too. But remember, you can enjoy the taste and nutrition of fruit and veggies any time of year-canned, frozen, dried - it all counts!
Choose canned fruits packed in water, not sugary syrup, and look for canned vegetables without salt. Frozen fruits and veggies should be without added sauces and sweeteners.
Article copyright © 2011 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.