Use these simple tricks to pack more nutrition into every meal

By now we all know how important food and nutrition is to our health and happiness. Eating fresh produce has shown to reduce the risk of a host of health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, cognitive decline, and obesity. Nonetheless, many people struggle to incorporate enough fresh vegetables and fruits into their daily life.

Despite the numerous campaigns to make us eat more vegetables and fruits, obesity remains an epidemic among the American population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly one-fifth of our children are obese, giving rise to obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Writing for Mind Body Green, Dr. Deanna Minich reveals her secrets to packing more plant-based nutrients into every meal.

1. Keep things interesting

The first thing Deanna recommends is eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Regularly rotating your plant foods will not only keep things interesting to prevent food ruts, but it will also provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function properly and reduce food intolerances and allergies.

2. Choose whole plant-based food to save money and improve health

If you are one of the people who thinks eating whole, organic foods is expensive, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition will prove you wrong. The authors of the survey found that older adults who spent their money on fruits and vegetables had fewer hospital days and total medical costs compared to those who spent their money on animal-based foods.

Instead of buying plastic-wrapped or neon-colored convenient food, your focus should be on filling your plate with the colors of the rainbow. If you go shopping for fresh produce, give yourself time to discover what’s available. Organic fruits and vegetables don’t necessarily have to be the more expensive option. Or, why not try to grow your own fresh, organic foods for pennies on the dollar?

3. Vegetables and fruits are not the only nutrient-dense plant foods

If you are embarking on a plant-based diet, you should look further than the fresh produce aisle. Think of other whole plant foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices to boost the nutritional value and flavor of every meal.

4. Be mindful

Furthermore, Deanna stresses how important it is to select your vegetables and fruits for every meal carefully. While they all have their health benefits, some of them are called superfoods for a reason. She recommends adding the following phytonutrient superstars to your diet: turmeric, carrots, tomatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, spinach and collard greens.

5. One smoothie a day keeps weight at bay

Green smoothies are all the hype these days. If you are looking for a way to add more fresh vegetables and fruits into your diet, green smoothies are for you. They are a delicious and excellent way to start the day with all the nutrients your body needs.

Especially if you are watching your weight, green smoothies can save the day. Researchers at the University of Florida found that people who included a lot of plant-based foods into their diet were associated with a lower body mass index and waist circumference.

6. Pack some gratitude into every meal

Lastly, Deanna explains how food affects our mood and behavior. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase the level of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. Furthermore, for an extra shot of happiness, she recommends practicing gratitude while eating a meal.

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