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Produce Myth Busting

It’s not news that vegetables and fruits are good for you.  Their health benefits are widely established.   

Vegetables and fruits deliver fiber to support a healthy digestive and cardiovascular system, and to help you feel fuller, longer.  They are full of phytonutrients that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  And, from vitamins to minerals, vegetables and fruits supply an array of good-for-you nutrition that can be hard to get if you do not choose adequate amounts daily.  

Yet, that is the reality: many people do not eat enough vegetables and fruits daily.  In fact, nearly 40% of Americans report consuming vegetables and fruits less than one time daily!(1)  

Many Americans need to eat more vegetables and fruits.  But myths and unanswered questions about eating vegetables and fruits might keep people from doing just that.  So, I am here today to serve up the facts on fresh produce…all in an effort to encourage you to choose more!  

Here are the 5 most common produce myths I hear in practice – and the facts to set the record straight. 


Myth #1: Raw vegetables are so much better for you than cooked vegetables. 

Fact: Not so fast…both raw and cooked vegetables can be excellent choices!  Cooking vegetables alters the chemical and physical makeup of the food, which may either enhance or diminish the nutritional composition of that food.  Essentially, cooking vegetables “unlocks” the cell walls of plants, which provides an opportunity for nutrients to be either diminished (nutrients part ways with the vegetable) or more available (nutrients are more available to be digested and absorbed).  

For example, cooking vegetables can decrease the water-soluble and heat-sensitive nutrients (like B vitamins and vitamin C), but at the same time can also increase the nutrition available through some nutrients and some phytonutrients, like carotenoids.(2-3)  

The bottom line: Both raw and cooked vegetables are an excellent component of a healthy, balanced eating pattern. 

Myth #2: I don’t need to eat vegetables because I eat plenty of fruits.

Fact: Go you for choosing fruits!  A healthy eating pattern includes fruits – especially whole fruits – but it also includes a variety of vegetables, too.  The truth is, if you are skipping out on vegetables you may be missing out on several key nutrients found in them, like vitamin K (found predominately in dark green leafy vegetables), vitamin A (found in red and orange vegetables), dietary fiber, and minerals like magnesium and iron.  Keep up your healthy fruit habits, but add in the vegetables you love.  Aim for at least 2-3 cups of veggies per day!(4)  

Myth #3: I can’t eat healthy vegetables and fruits on a budget.

Fact: You can! In fact, some experts suggest that it might be even more expensive to feed a family of four by ordering at fast food restaurants (~$28) compared to cooking up a nutritious homemade meal at home (~$9).(5) Choosing budget-friendly plant-proteins as the staples of your eating choices – like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and some nuts and seeds – and skipping the high-calorie/low-nutrient-dense foods can help you save dollars at the grocery store, and allow for plenty of nutritious vegetables and fruits to be added to your cart, too. 

Myth #4:  You should avoid starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, carrots and peas since they are full of carbohydrates.

Fact: You are correct in that corn, potatoes, peas and carrots are denser in carbohydrates and calories than their non-starchy counterparts.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have them as part of your meal or snack choices!  Because they will offer a bit more energy per bite, I suggest keeping the portion sizes of these foods to no larger than one fist-sized portion (about ½ to 1 cup) per eating occasion and pairing them with proteins, healthy fats and other non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, leafy greens, etc.) instead of additional carbohydrates.  That means if you choose potatoes or corn as a side dish at a meal, it’s likely best to skip the additional noodles or breadbasket at that meal and enjoy roasted non-starchy vegetables instead! 

Myth #5: Vegetables and fruits just taste bad!

Fact:  Ok, so I suppose this one is more of an opinion rather than a fact ;) But the truth is, prepared well, vegetables and fruits can taste delicious!  If you have tried vegetables raw or steamed and did not like them, consider trying them roasted or grilled.  And of course, find delicious ways to prepare them!  Foxy has plenty of recipes to help get you started.  Check out all the tasty recipes using Foxy Produce here and be sure to check out my last blog, Cruciferous Vegetables: 4 Ways to Go From Dull to Delicious for more healthy vegetable inspiration.  


Have you heard any produce myths?  Want the facts?  Message me your questions over on Facebook or through my website. I’m here and happy to help!

References: 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2013. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/... 
  2. Link LB, Potter JD. Raw versus Cooked Vegetables and Cancer Risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2004 Sept;13(9): 1422-1435. 
  3. Palermo M, Pellegrini N, Fogliano V. The effect of cooking on the phytochemical content of vegetables. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Apr;94(6):1057-70. 
  4. Bittman M. Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? The New York Times. 2011 Sept 24. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09... 
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguid....  
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