From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Heart Health

5 tips to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet

Palmetto Health Heart Hospital
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 90 percent of adults and children do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Palmetto Health Heart Hospital dietitian Lisa Akly offers these tips to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

How many fruits and veggies should you eat?

Your age, gender and level of physical activity determine how many fruits and vegetables you should eat. In general, the American Heart Association recommends aiming for four to five fruit and vegetable servings each day. One serving ranges from ½ cup to 1 cup. 
Need to get in a few more in your day? Here are five ways you can get started on making those fruits and vegetables part of your meal routine.

  1. Don’t limit yourself. 
    • Fruits and vegetables are freshest and least expensive when they are in season. Not in season? You can stock up on frozen fruits and frozen plain vegetables (no added sauces or gravies). 
    • When selecting canned fruit, select those in their own juices rather than syrup. Look for canned vegetables that say “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.” Rinsing off canned vegetables also reduces the sodium.
  2. Keep it colorful. 
    • Fruits and vegetables come in so many colors (red, yellow/orange, white or tan/brown, blue/purple and green). These colors give them their varieties in nutrient content.  
    • Do your best to consume fruits and vegetables of all colors. Your plate will look appealing and you will be certain to obtain a wide variety of nutrients.
  3. Sneak it in.
    • Add fruit and vegetables to foods you love. Try adding cooked peas or broccoli to macaroni and cheese. 
    • Load that sandwich with veggies such as lettuce, tomato, onions, etc. 
    • Top a plate of fresh spinach with even more veggies such as carrots or sweet peppers as part of the makings of a delicious salad.
  4. Mix them up.
    • Mix vegetables in with pasta sauces, lasagnas, casseroles, soups and omelets. 
    • Combine fresh or frozen berries into pancakes, waffles or muffins as another great way to make fruits and veggies a part of every meal.
    • When baking a cake, add unsweetened applesauce or canned pumpkin in place of some of the oil in the recipe. 
  5. Vary your cooking method.
    • Try roasting vegetables. Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, okra, carrots, tomatoes, squashes and eggplant are many examples of vegetables that do well roasted. Roasting enhances their natural sweetness and reduces bitterness. 
    • Boiling on the stove is another quick way to cook corn, cabbage and potatoes, to name a few. 
    • Most frozen vegetables steam right in the microwave. You can have a vegetable on your table in less than five minutes. 

Same-Day Care

Palmetto Health offers several same-day care options for minor illnesses such as sunburns and other skin conditions. To learn more, visit