Nutrition Tip: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

By Kary Woodruff

I am excited to be working with the 15 firefighters participating in the 2014 My Heart Challenge, sponsored by the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. But why should the firefighters be the only ones to benefit with nutrition tips? I'm planning to share a weekly nutrition tip throughout the Challenge, offering you a simple way to make those little changes in how and what you eat that will make a big difference in your heart health. 

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Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water, so they can be filling, but they are very low in calories and can help us with our weight management goal. Plus they are packed with vitamins and minerals. In fact, you probably do not need a multivitamin if you are getting lots of fruits and vegetables!

Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits, and 3-4 servings of vegetables a day. The more color, the better! So if you tend to stick with the greens, for example – lettuce/spinach, broccoli, zucchini, etc – try the reds (apples, bell peppers, tomatoes), oranges (carrots, butternut squash, yams), yellows (summer squash, bell peppers, bananas), and blues/purples (blueberries, eggplant, grapes). This helps to make sure we’re getting a wide variety of nutrients.

Keep in mind, when we buy fruits and vegetables when they are fresh, they can be less expensive. That being said, having frozen fruits and vegetables can be a good back-up. Just watch out for canned fruits and vegetables which tend to have added sugars and sodium – these may not be as healthful as fresh or frozen varieties.