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Mom Was Right: Eat Your Fruits and Veggies - Grow Your Own, Too!

May 2, 2012

NASHUA, N.H. - Those planning a backyard garden this spring should consider putting in a wide variety of fruits and veggies, according to a Mayo Clinic Health System cardiologist - and the more variety in colors, the better.

Dr. Regis Fernandes says you can't go wrong.

"Fruits and vegetables are very low in fat and very low in calories, so they are not harmful for your health. However, they provide an important number of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients."

Planting and tending a garden is great physical activity which is also good for the heart, according to the American Heart Association. Fernandes adds that growing your own fruits and vegetables means you don't have to worry about the extra sugars and sodium which often are added to packaged or prepared fruits and veggies bought at the store.

People who regularly eat the daily recommended eight or more servings of fruits and veggies have lower incidence of heart disease, Fernandes says.

"When you eat vegetables and fruit, you are less likely to eat empty calories that would arise from foods that don't provide much nutritional value and will give you calories in excess. Calories can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, so by eating vegetables you're less likely to eat other things that are unhealthy."

People should consider planting a rainbow of fruits and veggies - red tomatoes, green lettuce, orange carrots - and then challenge themselves to eat such a rainbow during the gardening season, Fernandes says. Try roasting veggies, or even chopping them into bite-sized pieces and dipping them into low-fat or fat-free dressing, he says, adding that the best idea is to eat fruits and veggies all day long.

"So you add the vegetables to the meal instead of eating them separately. Throughout the day, you keep incorporating those vegetables in your meals and in between, and snacks, and then at the end of the day you're going to end up reaching that minimum requirement."

For more tips on making fruits and veggies a healthy part of your life, visit heart.org.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NH