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Produce Monday

Published

Do you eat your vegetables? Fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with a reduced risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, chronic pulmonary disease, type II diabetes, memory loss and some types of cancer. Eating fruits and vegetables is also effective for weight management. Yet, the 2009 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables found that only 14 percent of adults and 9.5 percent of adolescents eat more than 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables each day.
 
According to a randomized survey of 1,300 moms conducted by the Produce for a Better Health (PBH) Foundation, the two highest perceived barriers to increased fruit and vegetable consumption were family members' varied preferences and the lack of new ideas for preparation. More than 63 percent of moms agreed that it is difficult to include fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks because family members have different likes and dislikes. Half also claimed that they needed ideas about new ways to prepare fruits and vegetables.
 
Have you encountered similar barriers on your own journey to achieving a healthy lifestyle? The PBH survey, reported in the 2010 State of the Plate report, also asked moms about their most successful tried-and-true methods of increasing their family's fruit and vegetable consumption. Test some of these yourself or with your own family this week and see if it makes a difference!

  • Make it available: 38 percent of moms found success by placing fruit out in a bowl and another 28 percent found storing pre-cut vegetables in the fridge helpful.
  • Set a good example: 37 percent of moms found that eating fruits and vegetables themselves increased other family members' consumption. This supports findings from numerous that found a strong positive correlation between parental intake and child intake of fruits and vegetables.
  • Get the family involved: 36 percent of moms reported success by involving their children in the purchasing of fruits and vegetables. Another 26 percent found involving kids in fruit and vegetable preparation useful.
  • Try something new: While many of the participants' families' most popular fruits, including apples (28-32 percent), bananas (22-23 percent), and strawberries (11-12 percent), and vegetables, such as broccoli (12-19 percent), carrots (13-18 percent), corn (17 percent), and green beans (14-15 percent), are very healthy, some of the most nutritious produce items, such as kale, collard greens, Brussells sprouts, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and more, are fairly uncommon in households today. You never know which foods you and your family may end up enjoying, so take some time to test them out.

Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, associate professor of in the Bloomberg School's departments of International Health and Epidemiology, adds, “Try to make fruit and vegetables a part of every meal including breakfast and lunch. Be creative! It is not very difficult to do once you find the tips and develop the habits. For example, you can add a plate of chopped fresh fruits and vegetables on the table for each family meal and bring one to two fresh fruit to work as part of your lunch or snack. For parents, tell your kids why it is important to eat adequate fruits and vegetables each day, and help them to eat some in each meal. We've been trying with our two young kids and have seen some good results, though it is still a big challenge.”
 
For new ideas for how to cook and/or prepare fruits and vegetables, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org,www.meatlessmonday.com, and www.whfoods.org.
 
To read more about the 2010 State of the Plate report, visit http://www.foodpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2010-State-of-the-Plate-Report.pdf.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.