Eat Fruits & Veggies for Better Health and to Save Money

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Someone recently told me they don’t eat spinach because it is high in sodium. Hearing the comment, I had to look up spinach nutrient facts from a reliable source. Based on a publication from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, one cup of spinach has only 24 mg of sodium, about one percent of the recommended maximum (2,300 mg/day) for an average person under the age of 55. I’ll choose spinach as it makes a great salad and is loaded with 19 different vitamins and minerals. It is a true superfood.

We read and hear all sorts of messages about fruits and vegetables. What’s one supposed to think? Sometimes what we read is only a partial truth. We can make more sensible choices if we search out facts from reliable sources with peer-reviewed data. You can depend on information from North Carolina Cooperative Extension to be research-based,  and it is the most current and accurate we have at the moment.

You may ask why we should eat more fruits and veggies. A recent large study looked at the importance of fruits and vegetables with respect to weight and found that as our fruit and vegetable intake goes up, our weight goes down. Another study found that consuming nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day resulted in a 60 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease. Fruits and vegetables have also been linked to lower rates of chronic conditions like diabetes and certain cancers. Fruits and vegetables are good for us because they are low in sodium, low in fat, high in fiber, and contain no added sugar. Generally, they are loaded in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. This is welcome news for those with a family history of these conditions. As Hippocrates is known to have said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

If you are convinced to eat more fruits and veggies health-wise, read these tips to make your produce purchases cost effective. Per pound, fruits and vegetables are much less expensive than meat. Build your menu around the available fruits and vegetables that fit within your budget, food tastes, and shopping preferences.

  1. Buy on sale.
  2. Buy in bulk. Some produce – like onions, carrots, and potatoes – tend to last longer and cost less in larger quantities.
  3. Buy in season. Produce tends to cost less during the height of the season when there is plenty of product available. For example, blueberries are more likely to be on sale in June and July.
  4. Buy organic if it fits in your budget. Buy what you can afford. Eat more fruits and vegetables whether they are organically or conventionally grown.

I support local farmers by purchasing from them, but canned and frozen can also be budget-friendly options. Read nutrition facts labels to choose those with no added sodium or sugar. Canned vegetables with added sodium can be rinsed to reduce up to 30 percent of the sodium content. You can also preserve fresh fruits and vegetables by dehydrating, freezing, or home-canning. Our office has information to guide you to do so safely.

For more information, contact Janice Fields, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, at (910) 671-3276, by E-mail at Janice_Fields@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

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