Eat Your Vegetables!Every parent has probably used that line on their child at some point. Almost everyone would agree that eating more vegetables, as well as fruits, has health benefits. However, few people could list off specific health benefits of eating more vegetables and fruits in the diet.

Healthy eating habits counseling is a frequent topic in my discussions with families. Nutrition is important in the field of pediatric endocrinology for a number of reasons including management of obesity, management of poor growth, and management of diabetes.

Fruits and Vegetables are Good for You. Essential vitamins and minerals for our health are found in abundance in vegetables and fruits. In addition, anti-oxidants are found in many of these foods. These important substances help the body repair damage and maintain health. The below taken from the USDA website summarizes key nutritional benefits from fruits and vegetables as well as specific abundant sources for the important vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants found in them.

Essential vitamins and minerals for our health are found in abundance in vegetables and fruits.

Fruits and Vegetables are Tools in the Fight Against Obesity. Excess sugars and calories can sneak their way into today’s diet very easily. Many foods are fortified with high fructose corn syrup which is questioned as a culprit in weight gain.  Compared to many other foods, most vegetables and fruits have less calories and sugars per serving. An obesity research study published in 2001 showed multiple benefits in families targeted to increased fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Some Tips for turning the knowledge about fruit and vegetable benefits into practice to increase them in your diet. Here are tips to get started.

Remember 5 to 9 is the goal

The USDA recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for young children and nine servings for adults. The table below from the USDA website gives daily serving goals for age groups for the different food groups.

Remember 5 to 9 is the goal

Know serving sizes

The links below give information on serving sizes for both fruits and vegetables.

Create healthy habits early

Start introducing vegetables and fruits into the daily meals early, and involve children in shopping for groceries. Getting children accustomed to healthy food choices sets the foundation for a healthy lifestyle earlier. Below are some additional resources to help families shop and cook vegetables and fruits for children of all ages.