National Fruit and Vegetables Month!

Written by Lori Bumbaco, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, Oncology Dietitian

At the start of June, we celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month.  This food holiday has been observed since 1991, originally to promote growers and the grilling season. It is perfect timing as the growing season is in full swing and fresh produce will begin to be increasingly available to us locally. It is even better timing to use National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month as a reminder to try to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables every day. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, people who eat more plant foods such as fruit and vegetables have a lower risk of getting some cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and lung.  Some evidence suggests that a diet rich in plant foods also lowers the risk for colon, pancreas, and prostate cancer. At the same time, fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  

It is no wonder that experts recommend that we cover half of our plate with vibrantly colored fruit and vegetables at every meal. It is a simple strategy to optimize the cancer protection on your plate. Fruit and vegetables add color, texture, and an infinite variety of flavors to keep your taste buds happy!   

Which fruit and vegetables are best for cancer protection?  The truth is that all of them are!  The combination of all the nutrients in a variety of choices provides a vast array of nutrients and compounds that exert cancer protection. Fruit and vegetables all contain different amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Each of these components help create a body that does not welcome cancer. 

Do we have to eat organic fruit and vegetables?  Experts recommend that eating any fruit and vegetables helps to protect us against cancer. Research has not shown that conventionally grown produce is harmful, and in fact is beneficial for optimizing nutrients in our diet. Feel confident that any type of fruit or vegetable will add cancer protective nutrients to your diet. 

What are some easy tips to add more fruit and vegetables?  Add an extra vegetable to your current meal. For example, add baby greens to your smoothie or omelet. Make a substitution, such as swapping veggie noodles for some of your pasta. Replace the deli meat in your lunch wrap with leftover roasted veggies. Blend veggies into your favorite hummus or dip. Grab and go fruit is a perfect convenience food! 

What resources are available about fresh fruit and vegetables?  A helpful website that provides a comprehensive guide all about produce is Seasonal Food Guide. You might also enjoy all the resources found on “Have  Plant’s” website.