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A New Meaning to Spring Cleaning

After a long winter, we often revive our home with a good spring cleaning. So why not do the same with our eating habits? We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but yet most of us fall short of the recommended 5-9 servings per day. The simplicity of the produce section is something that no other section of the store has. Every item comes "as is", and is in its whole form. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce risk for heart disease including heart attack and stroke, as well as protect against certain types of cancers. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, which helps maintain proper bowel function, and reduce blood cholesterol levels. They are packed with many essential nutrients, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. The impact of fruit and vegetable consumption on our health is pretty remarkable.  Improving our eating habits can be hard, but if you currently don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, start by adding just 1 serving of a fruit and 1 serving of a vegetable to each day. Have an orange with lunch, 1/2 cup sugar snap peas for a snack, or simply add some chopped spinach to that pasta dish or chopped broccoli to a casserole. Gradually increase the number of servings you eat per day to at least 2 fruits and 3 vegetables. Spring clean your diet by choosing more from the produce section.

What counts as a serving?

  • 1 medium piece of fruit= baseball size
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned cooked fruit
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice
  • 2 cups leafy greens
  • 1 cup raw veggies
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned cooked vegetables
  • ½ cup 100% vegetable juice

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD


Do Your Heart a Favor (Cont.)
organic and heart healthy eatingFebruary is National Heart Health Month. Do your heart a long-lasting favor! (Continued)

The Dietary Guidelines for America (DGA) focuses on the big picture, with recommendations to help you make choices that add up to an overall healthy eating style. Changing the way you eat is difficult but over time your taste buds will adjust and I can guarantee you will feel better! Shifting to healthier food and beverage choices by replacing typical choices with more nutrient-dense options is a key strategy supported by the DGA to improve eating styles (1). According to the DGA, typical eating patterns in the United States fall short from the recommendations. For example, about three fourths of the population has an eating style that is low in vegetables, fruit, dairy, and heart healthy oils.

Fruit and vegetable consumption should be everyone’s primary focus when eating a healthy diet (with the exception of those with renal disease). They are the most nutrient dense, low calorie, and packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals, flavonoids and fiber. Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables for both lunch and dinner with a goal of 4-5 servings per day. Fruit is a great option for breakfast, snacks and/or as dessert. Aim for at least 3 servings per day.

Dairy is another food group that overall, Americans fall short on. Research suggests that dairy may be beneficial to reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Naturally occurring saturated fat, such as that found in cheese and full fat dairy products does not affect blood lipids such as total cholesterol and LDL. There is a growing interest of research on the relationship between fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, Kefir and cultured sour milk, and CVD risk. In a group of more than 26,000 individuals, they found a significant inverse association, with the difference between the highest and lowest categories of fermented milk intake being related to a 15 percent lower incidence of CVD.

Increase fruits and vegetables:
Start small and add one serving/per day each week until you reach your goal of 4-5 servings vegetables, and 3-4 servings of fruit. Add vegetables to scrambled eggs/omelets, meat loaf, sauces, soups, and casseroles. Layer a few spinach leafs to that sandwich or wrap. Blend frozen berries with plain yogurt or Kefir. Pair fruit with nut butter or cheese for a midmorning/afternoon snack. Settle your sweet tooth with fruit after a meal.

Choose 3 Servings of Dairy Daily: Most importantly, choose fermented dairy products often such as Kefir or yogurt (Stonyfield is my favorite brand as it provides at least 6 strains of good bacteria) Aim for 1 cup daily. Pair 1 oz of cheese with fruit for a mid-morning/afternoon snack. Go for an 8oz glass of milk post-workout or as a bedtime snack.

Use Heart Healthy Oils: Use olive or canola oil in the kitchen. Sauté veggies for omelets, fajitas, casserole or stir-frys. Rather than frying foods in lard or butter, drizzle with oil and lightly pan fry. Toss vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, cabbage and carrots with oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven. Make you own marinades and salad dressing with oil and vinegars!


Sonestedt, E., Wirfält, E., Wallström, P., Gullberg, B., Orho-Melander, M., & Hedblad, B. (2011). Dairy products and its association with incidence of cardiovascular disease: the Malmö diet and cancer cohort. European Journal of Epidemiology, 26(8), 609-618.
http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(16)31329-6/fulltext?rss=yes


Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Nutrition Services
Hannibal Regional

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