Eat more fruits and vegetables to improve your diet.
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Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you lower your risk for becoming overweight or obese, according to a study published in the "International Journal of Obesity" in 2004. It can also help you increase your nutrient intake so you'll be more likely to get sufficient amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from your diet.
Fruits and vegetables can be an affordable way to increase the nutrient density of your diet. Although they may cost more per calorie than many less nutritious foods, they are one of the more affordable sources for some essential vitamins and minerals, according to a study published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" in December 2005. Fruits and vegetables tend to be good sources of fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins A and C.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a good way to increase your antioxidant levels. A study published in the "Journal of Alzheimer's Disease" in 2009 found that elderly people who ate more fruits and vegetables had higher levels of antioxidants and better cognitive performance than those who didn't eat very many fruits or vegetables. Some antioxidants increased by eating higher amounts of fruits and vegetables include vitamin A, alpha and beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamins B-6, C and E, according to a study published in the "Nutrition Journal" in 2009.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Beans and legumes increase your levels of folate, magnesium, iron and zinc, according to a study published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" in May 2009. Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, parsley, Swiss chard and green leaf lettuce, also provide significant amounts of vitamin K, helping you meet the recommended dietary allowance for this essential vitamin necessary for blood clotting. Sweet potatoes, potatoes, cooked dried beans, winter squash, bananas, apricots, orange juice, tomatoes, spinach and other green leafy vegetables all provide high amounts of potassium, a mineral essential for proper nerve and muscle control.
Fiber and Protein
Fruits and vegetables, including legumes, provide significant amounts of fiber. Choices with at least 5 grams of fiber out of the recommended 21 to 38 grams per day for adults include 1 cup of blackberries, a medium pear, a cup of cooked winter squash and a cup of baked beans, lentils or split peas. Unlike most vegetables, legumes also provide significant amounts of protein. Aim to eat at least the recommended 1 to 2 cups of legumes, such as beans, lentils or dried peas, per week.