Skip to main content
A pile of fruit.
Public Health logo

Eating more vegetables and fruits

Why is it important to eat more fruits and vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of many vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances. When eaten as part of a healthy diet, evidence shows they may offer protection from:

  • Certain cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Diverticulosis
  • Birth defects
  • Obesity
  • Possibly many other chronic diseases

How much fruits and vegetables should I eat?

The recommended intake of fruits and vegetables in the current "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" is:

  • For adults, 7-13 servings (3.5-6.5 cups) per day
  • For youth, 4-10 servings (2-5 cups) per day depending on age, sex, and activity level

What fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances?

Excellent sources have 20% or more of the recommended daily value, and good sources have 10-19% of the recommended daily value.

Calcium

  • Importance: essential for healthy bones and teeth; normal functioning of muscle, nerves, and some glands
  • Excellent sources: calcium fortified juice
  • Good sources: collard greens, spinach, green soybeans (edamame), turnip greens

Fiber

  • Importance: decreases risk for heart disease, diverticulosis and diabetes and has a number of other beneficial effects
  • Excellent sources: apples, lentils, lima beans, pears, pinto beans, raspberries, spinach, small white beans
  • Good sources: bananas, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, green beans, kiwi, onions, oranges, plums (dried), split peas, sweet potato

Folate

  • Importance: reduces a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect, reduces risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Excellent sources: asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, collard greens, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, spinach, split peas, strawberries, white beans
  • Good sources: beets, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce

Iron

  • Importance: needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells
  • Excellent sources: lentils, spinach, white beans
  • Good sources: apricots (dried), chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans, small white beans

Magnesium

  • Importance: necessary for healthy bones, involved with more than 300 enzymes in the body, inadequate amount may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure
  • Excellent sources: almonds, pinto beans, spinach
  • Good sources: beet greens (cooked), black beans, butternut squash, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, peanuts, red kidney beans, soybeans, white beans

Potassium

  • Importance: diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Excellent sources: pink beans, lima beans, small white beans
  • Good sources: apricots (dried), bananas,broccoli, cherries, chickpeas, kiwi, lentils, lima beans (small), pinto beans, potatoes, split peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Vitamin A

  • Importance: keeps eyes and skin healthy, helps protect against infections
  • Excellent sources: apricots, apricots (dried), cantaloupe, carrots, collard greens, grapefruit, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon
  • Good sources: asparagus, celery, plums (dried)

Vitamin C

  • Importance: helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy
  • Excellent sources: apricots, beans (yellow snap), bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (green), cantaloupe, cauliflower collards, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, melon (honeydew), onion, orange, pineapple, potato, raspberries, rutabagas, spinach, squash (summer), strawberries, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelon
  • Good sources: asparagus, banana, carrot, celery, cherries, corn, cucumber, green beans, nectarines, peaches, pear, plums

How can I get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables?

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruits on the counter. Refrigerate cut up fruits and vegetables in small bags for easy snacks on the run.
  • Eat as a family and serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. Add grated or cut vegetables into entrees, side dishes, and soups; top off cereal with fruit.
  • Set a good example. Snack on fruit and order low-sodium, low-fat salads, soups, or vegetable sides when at restaurants.
  • Pack the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard with pre-cut, frozen, and canned vegetables so that it is easier for you to prepare meals and snacks that include vegetables.
  • Let children choose which fruits and vegetables to serve and how to incorporate them into their favorite meals. Let children choose fruits and vegetables when you shop at the farmer's market or grocery store.
  • Make fruits and vegetables fun. Try dressing up sandwiches with faces and smiles made from fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep trying. For some foods, it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for it.

What help is available to make buying fruits and vegetables affordable?

Bloomington Farmer's Market

Creekside Buyer's Club

  • Food buying club offers fresh produce and other items in small quantities at reasonable prices.
  • Creekside Community Center, 9801 Penn Ave. S., Room 102, 952-563-4957
  • Thursdays 9-11:15 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Fare For All Express

  • Save up to 40 % on a variety of healthy, fresh, quality foods.
  • Open to everyone.
  • Cash, credit, debit and EBT are accepted.
  • Located at Creekside Community Center, 9801 Penn Ave. S., 952-563-4944
  • More information about Fare For All Express

WIC (Women, Infants and Children)

  • WIC helps pregnant and breast feeding women, infants and children to age five with vouchers for supplemental food and nutrition counseling. Peer breastfeeding counselors help breastfeeding moms.
  • The service is provided at the Bloomington Public Health Center and Richfield Central School.
  • Call to find out if you meet income eligibility guidelines and for an appointment: 952-563-8993
  • Learn more about the WIC program.

Where can I get more information about using fruits and vegetables?

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.