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How can I fit more vegetables and fruit into a healthy meal?

​​​​​​​​​Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Studies show that eating these amounts of vegetables and fruit will reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

  • ​Vegetables and fruit have fibre and potassium which help lower blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit can help lower your risk for some types of cancer.
  • Canada’s food guide recommends plenty of vegetables and fruit every day. Choose different textures, colours, and shapes to fit your taste.
  • Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit can be just as healthy as fresh, and keep longer. Choose frozen or canned vegetables and fruit with no added sugar, salt, or sauces.
  • Choose whole or cut vegetables and fruits instead of juice. Fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates are high in sugar.

How can I eat all my servings of vegetables and fruit each day?

For meals:

  • Fill half your plate, bowl, or lunch box with vegetables and fruits like on the plate below.

  • Start your meal with a salad made from spinach, lettuce, or grated carrot. Top it off with chopped vegetables or fruit, like oranges, apples, or strawberries.
  • Add fresh or frozen vegetables to spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, chili, casseroles, or frozen meals.
  • Double up the vegetables in recipes. Use canned or frozen vegetables to save time.
  • Eat fresh fruit or canned fruit packed in juice for dessert.
  • Choose or make pizza topped with mushrooms, zucchini, red or green peppers, broccoli, spinach, shredded carrots, tomato slices, or pineapple.
  • Add sliced fresh fruit to cereal or yogurt, or mix into pancake batter.
  • Put lots of sliced or shredded vegetables on sandwiches and in wraps.
  • Offer to bring a salad, vegetable dish, or fruit dish when eating with friends and family.

For snacks:

  • Keep washed and sliced carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, or cucumber in the fridge for a quick snack or to add to a lunch bag.
  • Try unsweetened apple-sauce or fruit cup. They travel well and don’t bruise.
  • Have a bowl of washed fruit at work or on your table at home for a snack that is easy to grab.
  • Make a fruit smoothie by blending ½ banana, ½ cup (125 mL) milk (skim, 1% or 2%), 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen berries or other fruit, and 1 cup (250 mL) ice. Find more smoothies ideas and learn how to make your own flavor combinations in, Making smoothies with more calories and protein.
  • Freeze fruit that has become too ripe, to use later in baking or smoothies.

Shopping tips

  • Buy fresh vegetables and fruit when they are on sale to save money. You can freeze vegetables or fruits that have become too ripe and use them later in sauces, soups, baking, or smoothies.
  • Use frozen or canned vegetables and fruit with no added sugar, salt, or sauces for a healthy and quick option.
  • If you are short on time, buy convenience items in the produce section. Try pre-washed bags of salad, spinach, baby carrots, snap peas, or broccoli.
  • Buy some vegetables and fruit that are ripe and some that are partly ripe. This way, they won’t all ripen at the same time.

Cooking Tips

  • Try cooking methods like baking or roasting.
  • Stir-fry vegetables using a small amount of water or healthy oil, such as canola oil or olive oil. Avoid deep frying.
  • Use only small amounts of water (1/4 cup, or 60mL), when steaming or microwaving vegetables or fruit. This helps keep more vitamins and minerals in the food.
  • Flavour vegetables with herbs and spices instead of salt. You can also try lemon juice, orange juice, or flavoured vinegars.

Current as of: January 13, 2023

Author: Nutrition Services, Alberta Health Services