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variety of fruits & vegetables
Eating a variety of foods is essential to get all the nutrients your body needs. Many of us eat the same foods day after day because it is easy, fast, and what we know and like. However, eating that way may cause us to miss out on some important nutrients that are needed for good health.
It is also important to eat a variety of foods within each group. That means don’t eat all your servings from the grain group in the form of white bread or your favorite breakfast cereal. Try adding more whole grains in the form of brown rice, whole wheat breads, whole grain cereals, or more exotic grains like barley or quinoa.
For the vegetable group, one way to get more variety is by eating vegetables of different colors. Different colored vegetables provide varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have unique health benefits. The phytonutrients are responsible for the colors of vegetables.
Vegetables can be classified into color groups, such as red (tomato), orange (sweet potato), green, (spinach), white (onions), and purple (eggplant). According to the American Dietetic Association, research suggests that phytonutrients may work best when eaten together in a whole food. So, eating a wide variety of different colored vegetables may give us more health benefits than eating only a single type of vegetable.
Variety is important for all the other food groups as well. Fruits such as berries and melons offer vitamins and phytonutrients not found in the more familiar apples and bananas. There are many new kinds of yogurt and cheeses available to add variety from the dairy group. Varying your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas will increase your intake of nutrients such as healthy fats, in the case of fish, or fiber from beans and peas.
We are fortunate in our country to have a wide variety of foods available in our stores and markets. Foods are also available in different forms and at different cost levels, so you can find a variety of foods to fit into your food budget. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned, and when a fruit or vegetable is not in season, the other forms may be more economical.
It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. It can be boring to eat the same foods every day. By choosing a variety, we can add enjoyment to our meals and get the added benefits of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.