Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat, as well as rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report shows just one in 10 adults achieve the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations, which range from one half to two fruit servings daily and two to three vegetable servings daily.

For people with diabetes, eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables is particularly important. Eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet that can help manage weight and blood sugar. One study in a peer reviewed open access journal resulted in a promising association between adult weight outcomes and vegetable consumption.  

Here are 5 easy ways to increase your fruit and vegetable intake starting today.

1. Start small

Start small by adding a fruit or vegetable to one of your favorite dishes. Add vegetables to a pizza, casserole, sandwich, quinoa, soup, stew or omelet. Add fruit to a salad, oatmeal, smoothie, toast, yogurt, or bruschetta.

2. Substitute your usual side item for a fruit or a vegetable

Tasty and easy side items include sweet potatoes, oranges, blueberries, green beans, apples, corn, banana and more. Select fresh, frozen without sugar added, or canned without salt added for optimal choices.

3. Center your meal around a fruit or a vegetable

Instead of making a fruit or vegetable the side item, incorporate it into your main entrée. Try a new recipe such as vegetable pot pie, spaghetti squash, black bean burger, spinach quiche, or eggplant parmesan.

4. Bring fruits and vegetables as on-the-go snacks

If you find yourself on the go often, consider taking a fruit or vegetable with you for a snack. Bring an apple with a natural nut butter, yogurt with mixed berries, or your own homemade trail mix with your favorite cereal, unsalted nuts and your favorite dried fruit.

5. Start a garden

Grow your own fruit and/or vegetable garden. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, or strawberries would be a great start. For more on starting a home fruit or vegetable garden, visit the USDA’s National Agricultural Library.

These tips are just the beginning. If you are looking for more ideas to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, view the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables.

Image Credit: Total Shape