Fruits and vegetables are important additions to your menu. They are low in calories, and high in filling fiber and water. They also deliver vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals—plant-based compounds with many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables also add color and flavor to meals and snacks.
What are the best fruits and vegetables?
All fruits and vegetables are good! The best ones are the ones that you eat—and enjoy.
To get the most benefits, aim to eat the rainbow. Fruits and vegetables come in all colors, and each color gives you different benefits. Here are some examples:
- Green fruits and vegetables have cancer-preventing compounds. Try spinach, kiwi, broccoli and green grapes.
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables have compounds that may lower risk of heart disease and reduce inflammation. Try carrots, pineapple, winter squash, bananas and peaches.
- Red fruits and vegetables have compounds that may help your heart, lower your risk of stroke and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancers. Try strawberries, cherries, red bell peppers, beets and red onion.
- White and brown fruits and vegetables contain compounds that may lower your risk of some cancers. Try garlic, onions, mushrooms and cauliflower.
- Blue and purple fruits and vegetables have compounds that may lower blood pressure and heart disease risk and improve brain health. Try blueberries, blackberries, plums, red cabbage and eggplant.
How much produce should you eat each day?
Adults generally need around three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. Sound like a lot? It’s easy to do if you add produce to the meals and snacks you already love. You could also think of new fruit- or veggie-based ideas you may enjoy. Here are some ways to get more produce throughout the day:
- Add some avocado and a handful of arugula to your toast.
- Scramble eggs with sautéed spinach, peppers and onions.
- Top cold cereal with berries or sliced bananas. Sprinkle chopped dried apricots and raisins over your oatmeal.
- Have some grapefruit, orange or melon on the side of whatever else you're eating.
- Make a smoothie. Blending up a handful of spinach, frozen banana or mango, and other frozen fruit is a great way to start the day with several servings of produce.
- Make ants on a log. Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on celery sticks and top with raisins.
- Grab a whole fruit, such as an apple or a pear. Pair with cheese or nuts for extra protein.
- Slice up cucumbers, carrot sticks or bell pepper spears to eat with hummus or a yogurt-based dip.
- Layer up your standard sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cucumbers or shredded carrots.
- Choose a broth-based veggie soup, such as minestrone or lentil soup.
- Have a hummus-and-veggie wrap.
- Start your meal with a side salad.
- Roast a pan of cubed root vegetables, such as beets, parsnip, rutabaga and sweet potatoes.
- Add peas to rice in the last few minutes of cooking.
- Try cauliflower “rice” and zucchini “noodles,” either instead of or in addition to your usual rice or pasta.
Enjoy the new flavors, textures, and colors that adding more produce can bring to your plate!