National Nutrition Month

Written by: Laura Hill, PhD, RDN, LDN

Happy National Nutrition Month®! The 2020 theme is Eat Right Bite by Bite. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for American recommend 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily (on a 2000 kcal diet). Sadly, the average American consumes less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables add important vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate as well as the minerals potassium and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber to lower cholesterol and help with digestive health. An important research review found good evidence that increased fruit and vegetable consumption has a role in decreasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Fruit and vegetable consumption might also have a role in decreasing the risk of some cancers (2).

As a result, I encourage every client to improve the nutritional quality of their meal by promoting increased consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In our fast-paced world, it is often a struggle to get enough variety in our diets. The likelihood of getting adequate vitamins and minerals increases when more color (in the form of fruits and vegetables) is added to our plates. We tend to gravitate to fruits like strawberries, blueberries and oranges more easily than adding vegetables to our meals. Vegetable variety can include dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale, red and orange options such as sweet potatoes and tomatoes, as well as legumes like black beans and lentils.

One of my favorite ways to add variety this season has been to add roasted vegetables to dinner (a favorite combination is butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, cranberries and toasted pecans). I am looking forward to grilling season as this offers additional ways to provide delicious side dishes. Try zucchini or yellow squash, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with lemon pepper for a tasty spring side dish. Grilled peaches and plums also make a colorful and delightful addition to your meal. Click here for some additional ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables and enjoy them Bite by Bite!