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Prepare fruits, vegetables for heart health

February 9, 2016
Luana Turovskaya , MOV Parent

Valentine's Day brightens up a frosty and gloomy February with candy hearts and chocolate. In the same light, fruits and vegetables can add beautiful colors to your child's meals during the cold winter months. These amazing foods can protect your little one's heart from diseases associated with a diet lacking the powerful nutrients in fruits and vegetables.

Buy Whole Fruit

For the maximum benefit, whole fruit should always be preferred over fruit juice. Whole fruit has less concentrated calories, sugar, and more fiber than fruit juice. Fruit can be purchased frozen or canned and still contain better nutrition than fruit juice. When purchasing canned fruit, make sure it is packed in water or 100 percent fruit juice. You can also rinse fruit packed in syrup to help remove some of the sugar. Frozen fruits are great blended with some skim milk or low-fat yogurt as a quick breakfast kids can enjoy on their way to school. You can also make your own fruit salad at the start of the week and eat it as family to save on costs. Eating a variety of colors throughout the week can help ensure your child receives the maximum benefit from all the different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in each differently colored fruit.

Value your Veggies

It can be tricky to get the little ones to eat their vegetables. It is important to keep offering vegetables even when your child refuses them. After various exposures, they may become more comfortable with them and try them out. Using different colored vegetables to make designs on your child's plate may also help make vegetables fun. Try different dips like hummus, low-fat yogurt dip or peanut butter to make meal time more interactive. If the kids are hesitant, it is possible to sneak some into a smoothie, meatloaf/meatballs, soup, pasta and sandwiches.

Long Term Benefits

Children are developing their eating habits for the rest of their lives, and it is important to introduce healthy foods at a young age. Making healthy changes as a family is vital to create long lasting affects on the health of your child. Including 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily will help the little ones grow, learn and play!

Luana Turovskaya is a dietetic intern from The Ohio State University.



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