International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
On December 15, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) declared the year 2021 – International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The goal of this declaration is to raise awareness of, direct policy attention to and share best practices on the health and nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables. The declaration also addresses waste, with a goal of reducing loss of product.
Goals of International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
In the 80-page document proclaiming the International Year, the FAO focuses on 6 elements related to fruit and vegetables. The topics cover everything from nutritional value to sustainability to loss and waste. All aspects of the document provide helpful information, I focused on the “Health and Nutrition Benefits” chapter.
Health and Nutrition Benefits
The US Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming between 1.5 and 4 cups of vegetables per day and between 1 and 2.5 cups of fruit per day, depending on age and gender. Many Americans do not meet these recommendations. On page 11, in the FAO document, there are clear explanations of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables including the following:
- Longer life
- Healthy heart
- Better mental health
- Lower cancer risk
- Lower obesity risk
- Children’s’ growth and development
- Improved immunity
Another important aspect of fruit and vegetable intake is the boost they can provide because of their strong phytonutrient content. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that provide health benefits beyond the vitamins and minerals found in plant foods. Phytonutrients function in many ways in our body’s but the broad perspective of what they do is help fight aging, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments. The dark colors, and strong flavors, of many fruits and vegetables are signs of the wide array of phytonutrients they contain. Try to develop your menu with color variety in mind. A fun video provides a bit more on why we need more fruits and vegetables in our meals.
Color Your Menu
If your fruit and vegetable intake isn’t where it should be develop a plan to put more color in your menu. Identify the fruits and vegetables you and your family love, and think how you can add them more often to your menus. Maybe you can add them to salads or smoothies or maybe a pasta dish can be enhanced with chopped veggies. A quick snack of fruit and nuts provides an energy boost and a portable option. One of the biggest steps with boosting intake is to increase slowly so that palates adjust and that you avoid waste. Take some time to add Color to your menu.
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.