Organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, and the Produce for Better Health Foundation agree that one of the main things Americans can do to improve overall health is to consume more fruits and vegetables.
The average recommendation is two servings of fruit and three of vegetables a day. But the amount your body requires depends on your sex, age and level of activity. To find out what's best for you, go to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, www.cdc.gov.
By far, fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and fiber. Research has proven the benefits, yet many Americans are still not getting sufficient intake of these vital nutrients.
If you've been skimping on the fruits and veggies, renew your resolve this spring and take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the supermarket or your local farmer's market.
To get you started, here are my Top 10 vegetables and fruits, with a brief description of the benefits of each.
My top 10 veggiesSpinach:
High in vitamins K and A, magnesium, beta carotene, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate.
Kale: High in vitamins K and A, and magnesium.
Collard greens: High in vitamins K and A, magnesium, folate and calcium.
Bok choy: High in vitamins C and A, and calcium.
Broccoli: High in vitamins C, K and A, and folate.
Wheat grass: High in vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex, with 17 amino acids.
Potatoes: Both white and sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C.
Tomato: It's really a fruit, and it's high in vitamins A and C, beta carotene, lycopene and potassium.
Nori: High in vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, iodine and iron.
Artichoke hearts: High in vitamin C, folate, magnesium and potassium.
My fruit faves
Pineapple: High in magnesium, vitamins C and B1.
Watermelon: High in vitamins C, A, B6 and B1.
Papaya: High in vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Strawberries: High in vitamin C, magnesium and fiber.
Blueberries: High in vitamin C, magnesium and fiber.
Blackberries: High in vitamins C and E, potassium and fiber.
Raspberries: High in magnesium, vitamin C and fiber.
Cantaloupe: High in vitamins A and C, and potassium.
Avocado: High in vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium and folate.
Mango: High in vitamins A and C, potassium and beta-carotene.
This spring, get wild about fruits and vegetables. Your plate, pocketbook and health will thank you. *
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).
E-mail her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears each Thursday in Yo! Chat with her on her Daily News weblog, the Girlfriends' Locker Room, at www.girlfriendslockerroom.com. Her new podcast, "Philly Fitness and Health," is available for download every Thursday at www.philly.com.