It’s Easy to Eat Healthier

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk. That’s one reason the American Cancer Society recommends eating a variety of these foods every day. These foods contain important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and they’re usually low in calories. In general, those with the most color – dark green, red, yellow, and orange – have the most nutrients.

Think about how you can add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your day while you watch your intake of refined carbohydrate and sugar.

Try one or two of these ideas this week, and see how easy it can be!

Breakfast

If you usually have cereal, slice a medium or half a large banana on top. As an alternative to cereal, pour half a cup of berries into a cup of plain low-fat yogurt. Slice a banana on top or eat it on the run. Prefer something more savory than sweet in the morning? Add spinach and tomato to your morning omelet, or keep sliced red, orange, and yellow peppers and hard boiled eggs, or individual cottage cheese cups in the fridge.

Mid-morning snack

Snack time is a great time to work in more fruits or vegetables. Consider a snack of a single-serving container of applesauce, a handful of baby carrots, or a small orange.

Lunch

When you need a quick lunch, try a pita sandwich or a wrap loaded with vegetables, or a cup of hearty vegetable soup. Add a small side salad with low-fat dressing.

Dinner

Even if you only have a few minutes, dinner veggies are easy. Heat canned or frozen veggies (without added salt or sauces) in the microwave for a quick side dish. Microwave a sweet potato and add a teaspoon of butter, a splash of apple juice or squeeze of lemon, and a light sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar. Any one of these will add another serving of vegetables to your day.

Dessert

Savor a frozen treat made from 100% juice or put ½ cup of melon slices, peaches, or other favorite fruit on a toasted whole-grain waffle and you’ve added even more healthy fruits to your day.

Other tips to help you eat healthier and get plenty of veggies and fruits

  • At each meal, fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits
  • Layer lettuce, tomatoes, beans, onions, and other vegetables on sandwiches and wraps
  • Add tomato sauce and extra vegetables to pastas and vegetable soups
  • Add your favorite canned beans to soups, stews, and salads
  • Choose a vegetarian dish when eating out
  • Try different bean dishes: Split pea soup, vegetarian chili with kidney beans or white bean chili, black beans over rice, bean tostados and tacos, black-eyed peas with garlic and red pepper, or three-bean salad made with green beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans
  • Challenge yourself to try new vegetables from the produce aisle, frozen foods section, or your local farmer’s market.
  • Keep dried fruits available for snacks (but watch the sugar content!)
  • Make stir-fries or casseroles and with lots of vegetables
  • Add fresh or dried fruits, like chopped apples, raisins, prunes, kiwi, or orange sections, to green, leafy salads
  • Add chopped carrots, broccoli, or a mix of your favorite vegetables to soups, salads, meat loaf, and casseroles
  • Keep a bowl full of fresh veggies and fruits on your kitchen counter for quick snacking
  • If you’re short on time, look for pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables, such as baby carrots and broccoli florets, at the grocery store
  • Let vegetables, beans, and other grain foods like whole wheat pasta and brown rice be your main dishes. Use meat as the side dish.
  • Limit or avoid processed and red meat consumption. Instead, choose lean protein sources like poultry, fish, beans, or tofu. If you choose to eat red meat, choose lean cuts. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in the name. Trim meat of visible fat before cooking.

More menu ideas and recipes are available on our website and by calling 1-800-227-2345. You can also find lots of helpful tips at the Have a Plant: Fruits and Veggies for Better Health website.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: October 18, 2021

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