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Chapter 7. Breaking It Down (continued)

How many fruits and vegetables do you need?

Look at "My Healthy Eating Plan." How many fruits and vegetables do you need each day? How does this number compare with what you usually eat each day? Let’s look at Jennifer’s eating plan on the next page. In it, we’ve italicized the foods that we are talking about. You will see this eating plan throughout this chapter. Jennifer will make minor adjustments to it as she develops her healthy eating plan.

Nutrients in Fruits and Vegetables  
Sources of vitamin A
Bright orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin Tomatoes and tomato products, and red sweet pepper Leafy greens such as spinach, collards, turnip greens, kale, beet and mustard greens, green leaf lettuce, and romaine Orange fruits like mangoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and red or pink grapefruit
Sources of folate
Cooked dry beans and peas Oranges and orange juice Deep green leaves like spinach and mustard greens
Sources of vitamin C
Citrus fruits and juices, kiwi fruit, strawberries, guava, papaya, and cantaloupe Broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage (especially Chinese cabbage), Brussels sprouts, and potatoes Leafy greens such as romaine, turnip greens, and spinach
Sources of potassium
Baked white or sweet potatoes, cooked greens (such as spinach), and winter (orange) squash Bananas, plantains, many dried fruits, oranges and orange juice, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons Cooked dry beans Soybeans (green and mature) Tomato products (sauce, paste, and purée) Beet greens

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Jennifer should be eating 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (4 to 5 servings of fruits and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables) based on her calorie needs (2,000 calories). That is about 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables. She figured out how to spread this out throughout the day. First, she asked herself what fruits she likes. Then, she asked herself what vegetables she likes. She wrote down the following:

Favorite fruits: bananas, apples, nectarines, plums, canned peaches, orange juice, strawberries, raspberries, and oranges
Favorite vegetables: lettuce, spinach, potatoes, tomato sauce, green beans, carrots, and corn

Next, Jennifer figured out how she could plan to eat these foods throughout the day. She usually eats lunch with her co-workers; they often get sandwiches for lunch. She’s planned on having pasta and bean salad for dinner and raspberries for dessert. Knowing that, Jennifer realized that she needed to get in about 11/2 cups of fruit throughout the day, since she plans to get her vegetables and some fruit at home that evening. Jennifer decided she would try to eat the following foods during the day:

Breakfast: medium banana, fat-free peach yogurt, and coffee with fat-free milk
Lunch: turkey, with whole wheat roll; romaine lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with light Italian dressing; medium orange; and unsweetened iced tea
Dinner: pasta and bean salad (1 cup whole wheat pasta, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 cup chopped vegetables [carrots, green peppers, and onions], with olive oil) and 1 cup of fat-free milk
Dessert: raspberries (1 cup)

Jennifer checked her fruits and vegetables to make sure she has a variety of different kinds.

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Now, it’s your turn. Write down the fruits you like, in the space on the next page. If you need any ideas, look at the different lists of food sources of nutrients in appendix B.

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What if I don’t like
fruits and vegetables?

Some of us think we don’t like fruits and vegetables. But maybe we don’t like what we’ve tried. Look at the list of foods in appendix B and try something you’ve never tried before— or try them in another form. For example, if you’ve tried canned carrots and didn’t like them, try them raw with a lowfat hummus dip or salsa.

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Fruits I like:

Now, write down the vegetables you like, in the space below. You can use appendix B again if you need some help thinking of vegetables.

Vegetables I like:

Now, write down when you could eat these fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Try to make sure you choose a variety.






One way to make it easier to eat fruits and vegetables is to keep them stocked at home and ready to eat when you get hungry. So, let’s go shopping!

At the grocery store. You can buy fruits and vegetables canned, frozen, dried, or fresh. There is a sample grocery shopping list in part III, "Making a Healthier You Happen," to help you pick up these healthy treats at the grocery store.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, choose an assortment of different types and colors to provide you with a variety of nutrients. Buy fruits and vegetables you are most likely to eat, and sometimes, try something new! It is fun to try fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried before; you may find that you can add another favorite to your list. Remember, if you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, buy only what you will eat that week, because fresh fruits and vegetables can spoil.

A good way to save money and make sure you always have fruits and vegetables in your home is to stock up on packaged (canned, frozen, and dried) fruits and vegetables. For additional money-saving tips, we have a list in part IV, "Recipes and Resources."

One caution about buying canned, frozen, or dried fruits or vegetables: they may contain added sugars, saturated fats, or sodium—ingredients you may want to limit. There are three places to look on a package that give you clues to what is in the food: the ingredient list, the Nutrition Facts label, and the front label of the package. Added sugars can appear on the ingredient list as brown sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, and fructose. A more extensive list is in "Carbohydrates".

This sample product ingredient list for frozen sweetened strawberries shows you that it contains added sugars.

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INGREDIENTS: Strawberries, invert sugar syrup, corn syrup.

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Nurtitional Information Label

For canned, dried, or frozen fruits and vegetables, use the Nutrition Facts label to check the calories, serving size, nutrient content, and percent Daily Value (% DV).5 Compare similar products and make sure the serving sizes are comparable. To make your calories count, compare the calories and % DV for the nutrients you want to limit or get enough of per serving size.

To help make your decisions faster, use the Nutrition Facts label on many food packages. A quick guide to using the % DV: 5% DV or less is low, and 20% DV or more is high. You should keep saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium as low as possible and get enough of other nutrients such as potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.

While fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, you need to remember that packaged fruits and vegetables may contain added fat, salt (sodium), and sugars that can increase those nutrients you want less of. So, to be safe, always use the Nutrition Facts label. We’ll discuss more about the Nutrition Facts label throughout the book.

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  • At the beginning of a meal, ask yourself how many fruits and vegetables you’ve eaten that day. Then, try to add one or two fruits or vegetables if you still haven’t met your goal.
  • If fruits and vegetables are canned, dried, or frozen, read the label and avoid those with saturated fat, added salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • When you’re increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat, eat them instead of less nutritious foods.
  • Put fruits and vegetables on your shopping list—choose an assortment of different types and colors to provide you with a variety of nutrients.
  • When eating at a restaurant, order a low-fat vegetable dish as an appetizer or salad. Order fruit as a dessert. Watch out for added fat or sugar!
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In addition, the label on the front of the package may contain statements or claims about the product made by the food manufacturer. Use the claims on fruit and vegetable packages to identify foods with little salt (sodium) or added sugars. Examples include "low sodium," "no salt added," "no added sugar," and "unsweetened."

5. The % DVs are based on the Daily Value recommendations for key nutrients for a 2,000-calorie diet. Whether or not you consume more or less than 2,000 calories, you can use the % DV to help you determine whether the food or drink is high or low in a nutrient for the serving size listed on the Nutrition Facts label.


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