Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, farmers markets and local gardens. That means more opportunities to add tasty and heart-healthy foods to your everyday meals. Strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe and other seasonal produce taste good and help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
About one in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese, which can lead to a broad range of health problems. You can help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits by incorporating more fruits and veggies to their everyday diet.
Here are tips to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and help you and your family get on the right path to good health.
- Keep it colorful. Challenge yourself to try fruits and vegetables of different colors. Make it a red/green/orange day (apple, lettuce, carrot), or try for a rainbow of fruits and vegetables during the week.
- Add it on. Add fruit and vegetables to foods kids love. Try adding frozen peas to mac’n’cheese, veggies on top of pizza and slices of fruit on top of breakfast cereals or low-fat ice cream.
- Mix them up. Add fruits and vegetables to food that’s cooked or baked, or mix vegetables in with pasta sauces, lasagnas, casseroles, soups and omelets. Mixing fresh berries into pancakes, waffles or muffins is one example to make fruit part of breakfast.
- Use healthier cooking methods. Steaming, grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking and microwaving vegetables are ideal preparation methods. Use fats and oils low in saturated fats sparingly; don’t use trans fats.
- Enjoy vegetable dippers. Chop raw vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and celery are perfect with a low-fat or fat-free dressings. Dip tip: Read the food label of sauces and dressings to make sure they are not overloaded with saturated fat and salt.
- Sip smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase the amount of fruit you eat and they’re easy to make. A basic smoothie is just frozen fruit, some low-fat or non-fat milk and/or yogurt, and 100% fruit juice all processed together in a blender until smooth.
- Try fruit pops. Put 100% fruit juice and fresh berries in an ice tray and freeze it overnight. You can eat the fruit cubes as mini-popsicles or put them in other juices. Frozen seedless grapes make natural mini-popsicles and are a great summer treat.
The American Heart Association offers more resources to help your kids live a longer, stronger life. For information and tips on healthier kids including weight management, physical activity and nutrition go to heart.org/healthierkids.