We’ve all heard the age-old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But is that really enough? Not according to Canada’s Food Guide, which recommends 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for adults aged 19-50. If you’re thinking “Wow, I can barely fit 3 servings in,” you’re not alone. According to the 2016 National College Health Assessment Survey, approximately 50% of Marauders are consuming 1-2 servings per day, and only 10% are consuming 5+ servings.
If your next reaction was “Whatever, it’s no big deal,” you might want to reconsider. According to the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, eating fruits and veggies can lower risk of heart disease and stroke, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and possibly even protect against cancer. In the short term, high micronutrient levels also help the body make use of the energy it gets from food, which is especially important for sleep deprived students.
Here are some tips to help you incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet, whether you’re a produce-hater or nutrition connoisseur. Don’t get too caught up in the exact number of servings you’re consuming; if you’re trying to eat more fruits and veggies overall, you’re well on your way!
Start small by hiding fruits and veggies. Example: add a handful of spinach into a smoothie; you’ll barely taste it if you balance it with something sweet like bananas. You can also add grated or finely chopped vegetables like carrots or spinach to ground-meat dishes like meatballs. Fruits and veggies also make a great addition to baked goods—think whole-wheat banana muffins or zucchini chocolate cake!
If you don’t mind eating fruits and veggies raw, set aside time as soon as you get home from the grocery store to rinse, peel, chop, and package. That way, you’ll always have “fast food” on hand! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also roast veggies like beets or squash for pre-made sides to eat throughout the week.
Get creative by enhancing your meals with new fruits and veggies! Try adding zucchini noodles to your standard whole wheat linguini dish, or shredded radish in burritos or tacos. Challenge yourself to incorporate one new fruit or vegetable per week.