Today we've got another guest post from the staff over at Blue Shield. Enter Lea McManus, Nurse Educator, Summit Health, Blue Shield Store.
I’m a nurse educator who works at the Blue Shield Store inside the Lucky supermarket at Fulton & Masonic in San Francisco. I teach a variety of one-on-one wellness classes on behalf of Blue Shield at the Store including Women’s Wellness, Healthy Aging, Stress and Weight Management, and one of the most popular sessions, Nutrition. An optional part of this class is to shop the aisles together, and I often get a lot of questions in the produce section.
We all know fruits and vegetables are crucial to promoting good health, but did you know you should aim for at least 9 servings of vegetables and fruits a day? That’s about
4 ½ cups…are you getting enough?
I often advise that a key to keeping a consistent quantity of fruit and veggies in our diet is to mix it up with a variety of color. Those vibrant hues aren’t just eye candy – the real beauty is what’s inside…like fiber, folates, potassium, and vitamins A, B and C. Phytochemicals are what gives fruits and vegetables their color. These are beneficial to your health for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities, as well as their potential to lower your risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Some fruits, such as blueberries, have even been linked to improved memory function and healthy aging. Not even vitamin supplements are as effective as natural produce.
Aside from boosting your immune system and gaining protection against chronic diseases, fruits and vegetables provide you with a natural energy source to get you through your busy day.
Here are three tips to help you work more produce into your diet:
1. Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you'll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter at home or on your desk at the office.
2. Add vegetables to every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, soups, or stir fry makes it easier to reach this goal. And consider replacing sugary snacks with fruit instead.
3. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to get all the nutrients you need as well as combat boredom in your diet. If you’ve got finicky kids, introduce new fruits and veggies slowly and experiment with healthy dips, like a yogurt-based dressing. Your Lucky Supermarket has a broad range of produce, so get out of your rut, have fun and try something new today.
We’re fortunate to live in California, where access to farmers’ markets is available nearly year-round. Watch for Blue Shield wellness ambassadors at local markets in San Francisco this summer, or stop in the Blue Shield Store today.