By Ronald G. Rios
Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director
Chairperson, Committee of Public Health and Education
Healthy kids… are happy kids, one way we can keep our children both happy and healthy, is by adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to their diet. Research shows that these food groups contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are crucial to promoting good health, yet research shows that more than 90 percent of adults and children do not eat the daily recommended amounts.
To remind us of the importance of eating with good health in mind, the month of September is National Whole Grains Month and National Fruits & Veggies-More Matters Month.
Whole grains are an important source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also supply fiber, help decrease the risk of heart disease, and can even help with weight loss.
The USDA suggests that adults get between three and five portions of whole grains per day. Here are some easy ways to incorporate more whole grains into your family’s diet:
- Chose more whole grains over refined ones.
- Look for labels that read, “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat.”
- Bake with whole-wheat flour.
- Substitute brown rice or pastas for white with your meals.
Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, are naturally low in fat and calories and have no cholesterol. Experts suggest that we should all consume five to nine portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Here are some easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet:
- Serve your family fresh fruit in place of a high fat or sugary snack.
- Start dinner with a small salad.
- Add berries to your yogurt or sliced bananas to your cereal.
- Use a variety of canned, frozen and even dried varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Lower blood pressure, the ability to help maintain a healthy weight and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke- it’s hard to argue with the health benefits of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Every serving matters when it comes to improving your family’s health and nutrition. Each improvement you make, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
The Middlesex County Health Department offers programs designed to teach basic nutrition concepts and exercise. To request a health education program for your school, group or workplace, contact the Middlesex County Public Health Department’s Health Education Division at 1-732-745-8860.
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