Meigs Health Matters… Fresh produce

By Shauna Chapman - Meigs Health Matters

At some point in your life, you have most likely heard how important it is to include fruits and vegetables in your diet. But why? No matter where you look, it seems the food we consume is getting further away from nature. Packaged, processed food seems to be on every shelf and is consumed by so many people throughout the world. For every “natural” food label you see, there are three or four (if not more) alternatives that are sometimes cheaper and more convenient to prepare and eat, but not necessarily better for you. Many have weighed the benefits and find that saving money and fewer trips to the grocery store are more important than a fresh diet.

However, over the years it has been proven that having a variety of fresh produce in your diet is extremely beneficial for your health. One of the most obvious benefits of fresh produce is promoting a healthy weight. Eating non-starchy fruits and veggies such as apples, pears and leafy greens prevent blood sugar spikes that could increase hunger and cause overeating. You will consume approximately 10 to 20 times more fiber without even trying when you include fresh produce in your diet, which is naturally low fat and low-calorie foods (with a few exceptions). Therefore, you can consume more with less guilt and feel fuller longer.

Other health-promoting properties of fresh produce include reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, keeping blood sugar in check. Fresh produce is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that maintain healthy skin, reduce inflammation and promote a healthy immune system. The American Cancer Society also recommends eating fresh fruit and veggies daily to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Children who eat fresh produce regularly instead of prepackaged junk food are 10 times less likely to develop cavities.

Some tips for including more fresh produce in your diet include:

Keep fruit where you can see it. Prepare several colorful fruits in a glass container to tempt a sweet tooth.

Try making meals that incorporate a variety of fresh produce such as salads, stir fry and soup.

Use fresh produce to make a smoothie.

Layer lettuce, tomato, beans, onions, and other veggies on sandwiches and wraps.

As you can see there are many benefits to incorporating fresh produce to your diet that can help promote a healthy life. A great source of fresh produce in Meigs County is the Meigs County Farmer’s Market (MCFM), which operates on Saturdays from 10AM-1PM May-October on the Pomeroy Parking Lot. The Meigs County Health Department’s (MCHD) Creating Healthy Communities Program is proud to have provided initial funding and support to implement the MCFM to help County residents make the healthy choice the easy choice.

By Shauna Chapman

Meigs Health Matters

Shauna Chapman is a clerical specialist at the Meigs County Health Department.

Shauna Chapman is a clerical specialist at the Meigs County Health Department.