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A heart-healthy diet is generous in fruits and vegetables, but not enough people reap the benefits of produce consumption. Only 13 percent of people in the U.S. are eating enough fruit—1.5 to 2 cups daily—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news is worse for vegetables: Just 9 percent of the nation is consuming enough vegetables to meet the 2– to 3-cup daily recommendation. Yet those who consumed entrées that incorporated pureed veggies took in fewer calories in a day (up to 357 for adults), and increased their daily intake of vegetables up to 73 percent.
To help you play a game of dietary hide and seek, consider these ideas for giving popular dishes a nutrient-boosting makeover:
Pancakes: The next time you’re whipping up flapjack batter, consider stirring in grated carrot. When paired with spices like cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup, it will taste like a stack of carrot cake.
Oatmeal: Pureed pumpkin or even butternut squash can add natural sweetness to a pot of steamy oats and make it even creamier.
Yogurt: Forget the added sugars in flavored varieties. Add healthier sweetness to yogurt with ready-to-go chia fruit jam. Blend together 2 cups berries or cherries with 3 tablespoons chia seeds; place in a bowl and set aside for 2 hours to thicken. Stir jam into bowls of yogurt.
Salads: Both veggie- and grain-based salads can almost always benefit from the sweetness that berries, sliced apples, or orange segments can lend them. Or stir up a berry-infused vinaigrette.
Pasta: Embrace the culinary trend of swapping out starchy pasta for noodles made from vegetables. An inexpensive spiralizer can transform everything from sweet potato to zucchini to butternut squash into low-calorie, nutrient-packed veggie noodles ready to welcome all sorts of traditional pasta toppings.
Smoothies: Not just for fruits, smoothies also offer a perfect opportunity to drink some vegetables. When paired with ingredients such as frozen berries, tangy yogurt, and creamy nut butters, leafy greens like spinach and baby kale can be blitzed into a smoothie without it tasting like a salad.
Chocolate baked goods: To make items like brownies and chocolate cake less of a guilty pleasure, incorporate beets, sweet potatoes, or even avocado puree. They’ll add fudgy consistency and let you cut back on the amount of fat and sugar called for in the recipe.
For more information on heart-healthy eating tips, purchase Heart-Healthy Diet from University Health News.