To celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Veggie Month in June and to stay committed to our passion to help improve the health outcomes of residents we are writing an article about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. We hear all the time that we need to eat our vegetables, but have you ever asked why? Why should half of your diet consist of fruits and veggies? How do these foods help reduce our risk of getting type 2 diabetes?
Did you know, according to the CDC, more than 37 million Americans live with diabetes? What’s even more alarming is, it’s estimated another 8.5 million adults are living undiagnosed. Studies show that type 2 diabetes risk factors like stroke, heart disease and more can be significantly decreased by increasing our intake of fruits and veggies.
Produce is full of vitamins and minerals essential to keep our bodies healthy. They provide nutrients that our bodies need, but they also help prevent common illnesses. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables in Wayne County and Union County, as well as how you can support local growers and farmers.
Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetables
There are so many benefits to fruits and vegetables that we could write multiple articles about them. The health benefits are something that directly affects one of our focus areas. Access to health does not just mean that Wayne and Union counties residents have access to insurance and help from medical professionals, but it also means that individuals have access to healthy food that reduces their risk for illness.
You can reduce your risk of many severe diseases by ensuring there are fruits and vegetables in your diet. If you are struggling with illnesses, changing your diet can also help to improve your overall health. Here is some research from The Harvard School of Public Health.
- Cardiovascular Disease: “There is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.”
- Cancer: “Numerous early studies revealed what appeared to be a strong link between eating fruits and vegetables and protection against cancer.”
- Diabetes: “Studies show that a greater consumption of whole fruits was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”
With all these fantastic benefits and illness-reducing properties, you would think that everyone is eating enough fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, only 9% of adults eat enough vegetables, and only 12% eat enough fruit. With numbers like these, it is essential that everyone is given equitable access to fruits and vegetables.
Top 8 Reasons to Eat Vegetables
- Adds color, texture and appeal to your meals
- Comes in all different varieties canned, frozen and fresh
- Provides fibers that keep you full for longer and improve gut health
- Low in calories
- Reduces the risk of disease
- Full of vitamins and minerals
- There is a large variety and many new things to try
- Perfect for easy and healthy snacking
Planning a Healthy Diet
We all need to add more fruits and vegetables to our diets. But you are probably asking how? We have a couple of easy tips to help you add more produce to your meals. Each of these are simple and quick tips that can make a big difference over time.
- Track the number of fruits and vegetables you are eating every day
- Buy your favorite produce and keep it in an easy to grab location
- Create prepackaged snack-sized servings
- Experiment with new fruit and veggies that you have never tried
- Add fruits and vegetables to your favorite recipes
Everyone Deserves Access to Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, all of us could make better choices at the grocery stores. For others, access to produce especially fresh fruits and vegetables is more complicated. When funds are limited, the front of the grocery store is the last place that people go. Instead, they purchase canned or processed options that are cheaper with a longer shelf life.
This is why it is so important that everyone is given equitable access to fresh produce because some people simply don’t eat enough vegetables because they can’t afford to do so. Food insecurity has lifelong physical and mental repercussions. Read this article to learn more about food insecurity in Wayne and Union counties. Food insecurity and lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a problem that faces individuals in our community. Fortunately, there are some programs in place to combat this issue.
Support Local Farmer’s and Growers
Do you know what we love more than fresh produce? Farmer’s Markets! Farmer’s markets give people the opportunity to buy locally grown produce from farmers and small businesses. It makes everyone healthier and supports the local community. What could be better than that?
There are multiple farmers’ markets that sell fresh fruit and vegetables in Wayne County and Union County. One farmers’ market that we need to highlight is the Richmond Farmers Market. You can enjoy the offers of the Richmond Farmer’s Market by heading to the Jack Estro Plaza at 47 North 6th Street. It is open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Tuesday evening from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. We felt the need to highlight this farmer’s market because they offer the opportunity to use SNAP benefits. They have a SNAP double dollars program, which doubles the value of SNAP dollars. Check out their website for more information about the Richmond Farmer’s Market and their SNAP program.
There are more great Farmer’s Markets in Wayne and Union counties that you need to check out!
- Cambridge City Farmer’s Market – Downtown District Cambridge City, Every Saturday, July – August
- Union County Farmer’s Market – UC Historical Society Waterworks Building/Artisan Center, 302 N Main Street, Every Saturday
Learn More About United Way of Whitewater Valley
We hope that you learned something about the benefits fresh fruit and vegetables in Wayne County and Union County and can join us in our fight for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in Wayne and Union counties. There is a lot of work to be done which means we need your help to make positive change in our community.
Get to know more about our program partners working in our four focus areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, and access to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do at United Way of Whitewater Valley.