For all Americans, including children over the age of two years, the consumption of plant foods is lower than recommended. This effects the intake of important nutrients like potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber as well as others.
Since most Americans need to eat more plant foods, it’s a good thing we can find them in every food group: fruits, vegetables, grains, and even dairy and protein with foods like soy products, nuts, and legumes.
Plant foods are packed full of nutrients that help kids’ bodies grow strong and keep them (and you) healthy! Plant foods promote good health and help prevent chronic disease from developing. And, they even help us feel energized and feeling our best! Eating more plant foods can be especially important to families who don’t usually get enough of these super healthy foods. As parents, not only are you in charge of your own health, but that of your children as well. It’s up to you to make sure these foods are part of the daily family diet. Don’t worry—I am going to show you how easy (and tasty) it can be!
The question is: How much do we need? For a healthy diet, the trick is to fill your plate with a variety of plant foods. You can fill each category with a plant food, including protein!
Let’s review My Plate: ½ of the plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables; ¼ of the plate grains; ¼ of the plate with protein and a side of dairy.
Some of the great things plant foods have in them are fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and sometimes, healthy fats.
Fiber-All plant foods have fiber. That’s how it maintains it’s shape. Fiber helps keep a healthy digestive system and a healthy heart.
Vitamins & Minerals -There are lots of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in plant foods—like carbohydrates for energy and even protein. Our bodies need these vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to look and feel our best.
Antioxidants-This is another unique benefit that plant foods offer. They help the body to stay healthy and they help fight-off chronic disease.
Healthy Fats-Some plant foods have healthy fats, like nuts or avocados. These fats are good for us because they help us maintain a healthy brain, heart, and mind.
Fruits and vegetables contribute a lot of different nutrients, many of which are under-consumed by Americans, such as folate, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamins A, C, and K. These important nutrients (and their foods) help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially heart attack and stroke. They are also naturally low in calories and high in fiber, helping you manage your weight.
Whole grain foods have all three parts of the grain: the bran, germ, and endosperm—all the nutrients of an entire grain seed. These nutrients help keep the body, heart, and gut healthy!
The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing and your hair shiny, so stick with 100% whole grain foods!
Whole grains have so many great things for our bodies— protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals!