Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In addition, they have many health benefits like lowering the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.
The United Fresh Start Foundation is focused on one mission, which is to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Every child should grow up with access to fresh fruits and vegetables to have a strong and healthy future.
Nearly one in three kids in America is overweight or obese. That’s why fresh fruits and vegetables should be available to children everywhere they live, learn, and play.
The Foundation builds on United Fresh Produce Association’s leadership in nutrition policy and supports schools, communities, and innovative partnerships that benefit children’s ability to learn about, and confidently select, fresh produce when reaching for their next snack or meal.
Health Benefits of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Evidence shows that eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day has significant health benefits.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Prevent some types of cancer.
- Lower the risk of eye and digestive problems.
- Have a positive effect upon blood sugar.
- Promote weight loss when consumed from green leafy vegetables and fruits like apples and pears.
- Provide various vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation.
Try to eat a variety of types and colors of fruits and vegetables in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs.
How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Storing fruits and vegetables is easy! You can freeze, refrigerate, or even keep them on the countertop, depending on the fruit or vegetable.
In a cool, dry place: Keep bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, eggplants, and mushrooms in a cool, dry area, not in the fridge.
In the fridge: Most fruits and veggies can be stored in the refrigerator. Store berries in the fridge and wash gently before eating or using. Plastic bags with tiny vents help keep produce fresh longer by releasing moisture. They are great for grapes, blueberries, cherries, or strawberries. Fresh heads of lettuce should be washed well with water. Then dry the leaves and store them in a clean plastic bag with a few paper towels.
In the freezer: Many fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer. Just make sure to wash and peel if needed. Then store in a clean plastic bag
At room temperature: Garlic, onions, whole melons, tomatoes, and whole pineapple should be kept at room temperature in a well-ventilated area. Mangoes, plums, peaches, and pears can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag and should then be refrigerated for longer storage.
How to Cook Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
There are many ways to cook your vegetables and fruits that will help them retain their benefits. Here are some cooking tips to help you get started.
- Bake: Sweet potato fries by cutting up into slices and season with olive oil, pepper, and salt.
- Boil: Apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. Mashup and serve warm or chilled.
- Steam: Broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and olive oil sauce.
- Stir-fry: Red pepper, mushroom, and yellow squash with olive oil and herbs. Add some low-sodium soy sauce for an extra kick of flavor.
- Sauté: Spinach with garlic and olive oil.
- Roast: Brussels sprouts, beets and turnips drizzled lightly with olive oil.
- Grill: Some eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms to use in a wrap.
- Stew: Pears. Peel and stew gently in cinnamon, sugar, and water until tender.