Adding Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber. The National Cancer Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture recommend eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day to maintain optimal health.
Whether fresh, frozen, dried, canned, or 100-percent fruit juice, there are hundreds of ways to add fruit and vegetables to your diet. Experts suggest that up to 90 percent of people do not get enough produce during the day.
How big is a serving? One serving equals:
½ cup of fruit
1 medium piece of fruit
¼ cup of dried fruit
¾ cup (6 ounces) of 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice
1 cup of leafy vegetables
½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables
What are some easy ways to boost my veggie intake during the day?
Make veggies as convenient as a box of cookies. Keep a ready stash of dried fruits and vegetable drinks in your cabinets and office. When shopping, look for prewashed, precut vegetables like carrots, broccoli florets, and celery.
Eat Your Vegetables
Eating vegetables raw is ideal. It is thought that cooking vegetables may break down fiber into carbohydrates and reduce fiber content. When you cook vegetables, there is no need to cook them until they are soft. Instead, microwave or steam until they are tender. They also have a better flavor. Ready-to-use vegetables are very handy as snacks, quick sides or speedy salads. Just avoid frozen or refrigerated packages with butter or cheese sauces.
If you like beans, but hesitate to eat them because of embarrassing or uncomfortable side effects, try an enzyme product, such as Beano or Say Yes To Beans, that helps digest complex carbohydrates to prevent annoying “backlash.”
Increase Beans and Lentil Intake
Just about everyone can benefit from eating more beans, peas, and lentils. Don’t get in the rut of always eating the same kind when there are so many possible varieties on your grocery store shelves. Try black, pinto, or kidney beans; chickpeas; lentils; or (low-fat) refried beans. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad. Another delicious way to boost your bean intake is to make nachos with refried black beans, baked tortilla chips, and salsa.
Go slow when adding fiber grams to your diet. Add just a few grams at a time to allow the intestinal tract to adjust; otherwise, abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation may result.
Don’t Forget the Fruit
An easy way to remember to get more fruit in your diet is to eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and berries are good sources of fiber. Try not to peel your fruits and veggies. If you eat the skin and membranes, you’re adding extra fiber in your diet. But always rinse with warm water before eating to get rid of any surface dirt and bacteria. When you can, choose whole fruits and vegetables over juice because whole products have more fiber.