By Vanessa Chrisman, CHOC clinical dietician
Five a day. Eat the Rainbow. Have a plant. Fruits and veggies for better health.
These are just a few health slogans that encourage people to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. Most Americans know that eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, yet the daily intake of fruits and vegetables has been declining over the last 15 years. Concurrently, obesity numbers have been skyrocketing.
Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Research shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure; reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke; prevent some forms of cancer; lower the risk of digestive issues; maintain eye health; regulate blood sugar and control appetite.
With so many health benefits, it makes sense that parents would want their children to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that help children grow and thrive, as well as build immunity to ward off illnesses.
When it comes to how much to eat, it depends on the age of the child. Younger children should eat 1-2 cups of vegetables and 1-2 cups of fruit per day, while adolescents and teens should eat 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily.
When mealtimes are pleasant and fun, children are more likely to explore and try new foods. By offering fruits and vegetables daily, parents help instill healthy habits in their children that will last a lifetime.
For more on CHOC’s clinical nutrition program