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September 14, 2010 > Are You Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables?

Are You Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables?

Washington Hospital Lunch and Learn Offers Easy Ways to Eat More Servings

Most people know you're supposed to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but with busy schedules, eating on the run, and the temptation of junk food, that can be difficult for many. Nutrition experts suggest you should eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. That means about two and a half to three cups of vegetables and about two cups of fruit.

"The more fruits and vegetable you can eat, the better off you will be," said Anna Mazzei, a register dietitian and diabetes educator at Washington Hospital who will present an upcoming Lunch and Learn session on easy ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

During the presentation, Mazzei will conduct a cooking demonstration featuring vegetarian foods for people with diabetes. People in attendance will also get to taste and sample the food that Mazzei prepares. The class is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, September 28, from Noon to 1 p.m. at the Washington Women's Center, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To reserve a space, call (800) 963-7070. A $5 fee is required at registration.

"With more packaged and precut vegetables available, getting them to the table is easier and more convenient than ever before," Mazzei said. "For example, you can buy vegetables that are specially packaged to put right in the microwave and salads that are already prepared, no chopping or cutting needed."

She will talk about the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables and demonstrate how to prepare some easy recipes as well as some more elaborate dishes.

"I know veggies alone can be boring, but you don't have to cover them with butter or fatty sauces to make them taste better," she said. "I'll offer some healthier ways to add flavor. For example, there are many great types of vinegar on the market today that taste good while adding only a few calories."

Health Benefits

Study after study has shown the health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables. They contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and other natural substances our bodies need to thrive, and they may help protect against diseases like cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections. Excellent sources include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard greens, winter squash, cantaloupes, red peppers, and Chinese cabbage.

Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keep teeth and gums healthy. Excellent sources include red and green peppers, kiwi, strawberries, sweet potatoes, kale, cantaloupe, broccoli, pineapple, oranges, mangos, tomato juice, and cauliflower.

Fiber-rich diets have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary artery disease. Excellent sources include beans, peas, soybeans, lentils, and artichokes.

Folate may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect. Excellent sources include black eyed peas, cooked spinach, and asparagus.

Magnesium is needed for healthy bones and is involved with more than 300 enzymes in the body. Insufficient amounts of magnesium may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure. Good sources include sweet potatoes, tomato paste, beet greens, white potatoes, white beans, lima beans, cooked greens, carrot juice, and prune juice.

Filling your plate with fruits and vegetables can also help you maintain a healthy weight because they are naturally low in fat and calories. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried, fruits and vegetables are always a good choice.

Learn More About Healthy Nutrition

To learn more about healthy eating and download free recipes, visit To learn more about the programs and services offered through the Washington Women's Center, visit
or call (510) 608-1301.

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