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Crow Wing Energized: Healthy choices - focus on fruits and vegetables

Survey results point to Crow Wing County residents not eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Why is that important? The nutrients found in fruits and veggies may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Photo illustration1 / 2
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The Crow Wing County Community Health Survey found 2 out of 3 adults (65.7 percent) in Crow Wing County are not eating the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables a day. The previous survey conducted in 2014 found similar results.

Why does it matter? The nutrients found in fruits and veggies may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. University of Minnesota Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education shares the following tips on healthy choices.

Fruits

Fruits are naturally sweet treats providing the body with many health benefits including reduced risk of certain diseases like heart disease and cancer. All fruits including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice count as choices in the fruits group.

Best choices

Buy fresh fruits when they are in season. Not only will you save money, the fruit will likely taste better, too!

Select fruits canned in 100 percent juice or water, rather than syrup, which adds sugar.

Choose whole or cut-up fruits more often than 100 percent fruit juice. Fruit juice can count toward daily fruit requirements, but is missing the benefits of fiber found in the whole fruit.

Consider convenience by purchasing pre-cut packages of fruit, frozen fruits without added sugar and dried fruits.

Vegetables

The colors of vegetables each provide a broad range of nutrients that keep your body strong and healthy. Eat a rainbow of different colored veggies every day!

Vegetables are divided into five different subgroups based on similar nutrients: dark green, starchy, red and orange, beans and peas, and other.

• Dark green include: broccoli, bok choy, kale, spinach, collard greens and leaf lettuce.

• Starchy include: corn, green peas, potatoes.

• Red and orange include: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes and red peppers.

• Beans and peas include: black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, soy beans and split peas.

• Other includes: asparagus, avocado, beets, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, onions and zucchini.

Notable nutrients

• Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and boosts the immune system.

• Potassium keeps muscles and the nervous system working by keeping the right amount of water in cells and body fluids.

• Dietary fiber helps people feel full, aids in digestion, and helps remove waste.

• Folate helps the body form new red blood cells and is an important nutrient for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects.

• Vitamin A aids in keeping the eyes strong and skin healthy.

Try adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to the day. Eat a rainbow of different colors; each color is associated with a different health benefit.

Crow Wing Energized is focused on making the healthy choice the easy choice. To learn more, visit www.crowwingenergized.org.

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