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The Cost of Not Eating Fruits and Vegetables

By Jennifer Grable, NC Cooperative Extension Agent and Person County Lifestyle Coach


Do you get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet? Probably not because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that only about 1 in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. Just 13% of the US consumer eat 1 ½- 2 cups of fruit as recommended by federal dietary guidelines and less than 9% eat 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. There is a perception that fruits and vegetables are more expensive than other foods, which is not usually the case. We just need to get into the habit of replacing some of those foods we normally eat with fruits and vegetables. Eating a good amount of colorful fruits and vegetables is important because they help lower a person’s risk of chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. They are generally low in fat, high in fiber and help control blood sugar as well. With careful meal planning, smart shopping and a few changes in your storage and preparation techniques, you can make the most out of your family budget by always including fruits and vegetables in your meals.

In the United States, the percentage of overweight and obese adults and children has soared over the past several decades. Studies show that with the increased weight comes an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers. Being overweight or obese raises a person’s risk of getting at least 13 types of cancer because it may negatively affect the body’s immune system and inflammation, the body’s level of certain hormones and proteins, and other factors that regulate cell growth. One of the ways to decrease the number of calories consumed is by paying better attention to your portion sizes. Half of your plate should be fruits and non-starchy vegetables, 20% being lean protein, and 30% being whole grains. Eating less processed food, like chips and cookies, and more fruits and vegetables is always the better way to go.

In addition to healthier eating, it is important to increase the number of calories burned, by being more physically active. An adult should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of the two.

Enjoy this delicious recipe from the North Dakota State University Extension Service and don’t forget you can even get your veggies in for breakfast!

Summer Vegetable Frittata – serves 6

8 large eggs

½ cup milk

1tsp salt

1tsp pepper

1tsp fresh thyme

1tsp finely chopped fresh sage

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1Tbsp vegetable oil

1(12oz) bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces(about 2 ½ cups)

½ small zucchini or summer squash, trimmed, halved, and sliced into half-moon shapes

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs in a large bowl. Stir in the feta cheese; set aside. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until lightly browned. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and cook for two minutes more. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable, pulling the eggs away from the sides of the pan with a spatula so they flow to the bottom of the pan. Cook for four or five minutes. When the eggs begin to set, sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the top. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for eight to ten minutes or until the top is golden. Serve and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: 260 calories, 17g fat, 19g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 780mg sodium