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Confession time. I’ve been putting off this blog topic because it’s something that I’m not so great at, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Truthfully, I could eat the same thing every single day and be perfectly content. My go to vegetables include: spinach, tomatoes, and brussels sprouts. As for fruits, unless fresh strawberries or blueberries are available, I might go weeks without eating any. I’ll be the first to admit that my diet is far from perfect. However, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is really important, and an area that I’m striving to improve in. Read on to find out more.

I don’t think it will come as much of a shocker to most people that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but have you ever wondered why? While this is a loaded question, one reason is that they are a rich source of important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. These are all essential for health and for athletes specifically, to recover and adapt to the demands of training. Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lycopene.  

Daily fruit and vegetable requirements depend on different factors such as age. As a general rule of thumb, to meet these requirements fruits and vegetables should make up half the food you at meals. However, we should not only be aiming to eat ample amounts of fruit and vegetables, but also a variety as no single fruit or vegetable is going to provide all the nutrients you need. That’s right, there is no magic vegetable or fruit (not even kale or goji berries) that is better for you than another. Variety is key. For instance, bananas are a great source of potassium, but not such a great source of vitamin C, whereas strawberries are a great source of vitamin C but not such a great source of potassium. Another example is cherries which are a great source of the antioxidant anthocyanin whereas watermelon is rich in the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene.  Each is going to provide a unique blend of important nutrients. By eating many different types of fruits and vegetables, you will be able to benefit from the unique nutrients that each will provide.

So, what are some practical ways to increase the variety of fruits and vegetables that you eat? Here are some things that I’m going to try to implement:

  • Have at least two different types of fruits and/or vegetables with each meal
  • Try to make your plate as colourful as possible
  • Each week, try at least one new fruit or vegetable

With summer in full-swing, now is the perfect time to introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. I hope you’ll join me in implementing this new habit.

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Megan Kuikman

Learn to fuel your health and performance with Megan Kuikman, Registered Dietitian. Megan provides professional nutrition advice that you can trust. To work with Megan, call: 519-802-9445 or e-mail megankuikmanRD@gmail.com.

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