Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
But I Don’t Want to Eat my Vegetables!
Sarah Edwards, RDN
Clinical Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Watch the 13 On Your Side Senior Wellness Segment on this topic.
As we grow up we hear our parents tell us that we should always eat our fruits and vegetables because they are good for us. As a parent, I now find myself telling my children this. No matter our age this old adage still applies. To seniors, these foods are just as important as when we were little.
Adults should be eating two to two and a half cups of fruits and two to two and a half cups of vegetables per day. Your plate should look like a rainbow – bright, colored foods are always the best choice. Each color of fruit and vegetable contains different vitamins and minerals, all important for helping your body function at its best. Sadly, most adults are not eating enough fruits or vegetables.
Each vitamin plays a different role in our bodies. Here are some important vitamins what they do for our bodies and where to find them:
Vitamin A is important for vision, the immune system, and helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work.
- Bright orange vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots
- Dark leafy vegetables: spinach, collard greens, Kale, romaine lettuce, etc.
Vitamin C is important for the immune system, helps to break down protein in our foods, improve iron absorption, and production of collagen.
- Citrus fruits: oranges, kiwi, strawberries, guava, papaya, and cantaloupe
- Vegetables: broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, and spinach
Folate (vitamin B-9) is important for the production of red blood cells and repair of our DNA.
- Dry beans and peas
- Oranges and orange juice
- Deep green leaves: spinach and mustard greens
Potassium is important for regulating water in and out of our cells and plays an important role in the healthy function of our cells, tissues, and organs.
- White or sweet potatoes, winter squash
- Bananas, oranges/orange juice, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, and many dried fruits
- Tomato products
- Beet greens and spinach
Not only do these foods give us important vitamins and minerals they aid in portion control. If you start your meal by eating your fruits and vegetables you will become satisfied/full faster. Since most are packed with water and fiber they fill us up faster. Remember that eating the whole fruit or vegetable is always better than just the juice since we then benefit from all of the fiber in the food. These foods are not only good for our bodies but they are good for our brains as well! Recent research has shown that fruit and vegetable intake is protective against cognitive decline and related conditions. Especially the brightly colored foods.
Please discuss any changes in consuming dark leafy greens with your physician if you are on Coumadin (Warfarin). Always talk to your healthcare professional before the use of any dietary supplement.
National Institute of Health. (2013, June 5). Vitamin A: Fact Sheets for Consumers. Retrieved from Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institute of Health. (2016, April 15). Vitamin C: Fact Sheets for Consumers. Retrieved from Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institute of Health. (2018, March 2). Folate: Fact Sheets for Consumers. Retrieved from Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institute of Health. (2016, April 15). Potassium: Fact Sheets for Consumers. Retrieved from Office of Dietary Supplements
Nicklett, E. J., & Kadell, A. R. (2013). Fruit and vegetable intake among older adults: A scoping review. Maturitas,75(4), 305-312. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2013.05.005
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Older Adults Health Facts: Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables.