National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month (Conclusion)

June 27, 2019

June is celebrated as National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month. The history of National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month is unclear; what is clear is that this observance has been occurring since 1991 to promote the growing and grilling season. This column has highlighted this month the advantages of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and has encouraged you to bump up fruits and vegetables on your plate. In this final installment, we will look at healthy eating for preschoolers and young children.

The foods and drinks your preschooler has throughout the day are important for his or her health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy are a part of a healthy eating style and together provide the nutrients their bodies need. Limit the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat in your preschooler’s meals, drinks, and snacks. The USDA recommends:

Fruits – Focus on whole fruits. Serve a rainbow of choices. Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits. Purchase canned fruit in water or 100 percent fruit juice instead of syrup. Limit fruit juice. While 100 percent fruit juice can be part of a healthy diet, it does not contain the dietary fiber found in other forms of fruit. Offer raisins or other unsweetened dried fruit instead of chewy fruit snacks or strips, which usually contain very little fruit.

*U.S. Department of Agriculture

Vegetables – Serve a variety of colorful choices. Brighten children’s plates with red, orange, and darkgreen vegetables. Choose from fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. Prepare and serve vegetables without added salt or solid fat.

Grains – Make half your grains whole grains. Make at least half their grains whole grains by offering 100 percent whole-grain cereals, breads, and pasta. Vary the choices for whole grains. Rolled oats, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wheat berries, and millet are whole-grain foods.

Protein – Choose a variety of protein foods such as seafood, beans, lean meats, poultry, and eggs. Limit highly processed poultry, fish, or meat (like hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks). Even some “reduced-fat” meats and cold cuts, like sausage, bologna, and salami, may be high in saturated fat and sodium.

Dairy – Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. Serve unflavored, fat-free, and lowfat milks most often. They have less added sugar and fewer calories than flavored, whole, or reduced-fat milk. Blend dairy into smoothies. Combine low-fat or fat-free yogurt with bananas and cocoa powder for a smoothie, or try milk, ice cubes, and frozen berries.

Beloved, the USDA notes that everything we eat and drink matters. The right mix can help you be healthier now and into the future!

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