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Food and Nutrition

Tips for Vegetables and Fruit

Canada's Food Guide

Vegetables and fruit are nature’s fast food - just wash and go! There are lots of vegetables and fruits to choose from and many delicious ways to prepare them. Find out more about:

Choosing Vegetables and Fruit

Use these tips wherever you are - at home, at school, at work or when eating out!

Choose at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day to help you get enough of the vitamin folate and vitamin A:

  • Try dark green vegetables such as: arugula, broccoli, chard, dandelion greens, gai lan, kale/collards, mustard greens, and salad greens including romaine lettuce, spinach or mesclun mix; and
  • Try orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin or yams. Apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, nectarines, papaya and peaches also contain vitamin A and can be chosen instead of one orange vegetable.

Have vegetables fresh, frozen or canned - all are nutritious options.

  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables without breading or rich sauces.
  • Look for canned vegetables lower in sodium or drain and rinse canned vegetables which can lower the salt content.
  • Choose unsweetened frozen fruit or fruit packed in juice. Fruit in heavy syrup has more sugar and calories.

Short on time? Consider buying packages of pre-bagged vegetables such as baby carrots, leafy greens or green beans, which can be quickly tossed in a salad, stir-fry or casserole.

Choose vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

  • Eating vegetables and fruit provides more fibre than juice.
  • When having juice, pick 100% fruit juice over fruit flavoured drinks, punches or cocktails. Fruit flavoured drinks do not count as Food Guide Servings of vegetables and fruit.
  • Choose lower sodium vegetable juices - many vegetable juices contain a lot of added sodium (salt).

Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

  • Skip the French fries, poutine, and other deep-fried vegetables like tempura, zucchini sticks and onion rings. Have a baked potato, sweet potato, or salad instead.
  • Some products with "vegetable" and "fruit" in their names or on their packaging are composed mainly of fat or sugar or are very high in salt. Fruit candies, vegetable chips, fruit jams or spreads, ketchup and vegetable or fruit drinks or punches do not belong in the Vegetables and Fruit food group.

Treat Your Taste Buds

  • Try a new vegetable or fruit. Some tasty choices include bamboo shoots, bitter melon, lychee, guava, papaya or passion fruit.
  • Go for colourful fruit such as cantaloupe, watermelon, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, oranges, berries, cherries and grapes.
  • Visit a farmers' market. Try a variety of local vegetables and fruit such as broccoli, rapini, cabbage, leafy greens, squash, pumpkins, apples, berries, peaches and pears.

Read Food Labels

All the information on the Nutrition Facts table is based on a specific amount of food. This amount may be different than one Food Guide Serving.

You can use the Nutrition Facts table to:

  • Compare products more easily;
  • Determine the nutritional value of foods; and
  • Help you choose a product with more or less of a particular nutrient.

Use the food label on packaged products to help you choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

Example 1:
When comparing two similar products you can use the % Daily Value to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient.

Vegetable Juice

Nutrition Facts
Per 1 cup (250g)
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 50
Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated 0 g
+ Trans 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 680 mg 28 %
Carbohydrate 10 g 3 %
Fibre 2 g 8 %
Sugars 6 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A 2 %   Vitamin C 100 %
Calcium 2 %   Iron 4 %

Low Sodium

Nutrition Facts
Per 1 cup (250g)
Amount % Daily Value
Calories 50
Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated 0 g
+ Trans 0 g
0 %
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 120 mg 5 %
Carbohydrate 10 g 4 %
Fibre 3 g 12 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A 15 %   Vitamin C 100 %
Calcium 2 %   Iron 4 %
 

In this example, the specific amount of food, listed in the Nutrition Facts table, is the same for both products. Here, the product with the lower % Daily Value for sodium contains less sodium (salt).

Tip: The serving amount on a Nutrition Facts table may be different than a Food Guide Serving amount. The serving size on this label is 250 mL (1 cup) which provides two Food Guide Servings of vegetables and fruit.

Example 2:
You can also use the ingredient list to make informed food choices. For example, to choose frozen or canned vegetables and fruit that have no added sugar you can look at the ingredient list for sugar. Examples of sugars include: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, malt syrup, invert sugar and concentrated fruit juice.

For more information about making informed food choices with food labels, check out the Interactive Nutrition Label and Quiz.

Preparing Vegetables and Fruit

Prepare vegetables and fruit that taste great!

  • Experiment with recipes that call for different leafy greens such as beet greens, chard, chicory, collards and kale.
  • Make a salad with spinach or arugula instead of iceberg lettuce.
  • Steam or microwave vegetables in a small amount of water for a few minutes to retain more nutrients than boiling.
  • Have orange vegetables such as squash (acorn, hubbard or butternut), pumpkin, sweet potatoes or yams baked, boiled or pureed in soups.
  • Serve a platter of raw vegetables like green, yellow, orange or red peppers, and cherry or grape tomatoes. Try them with dips made with low fat yogurt or low fat sour cream.
  • Enjoy peaches, mangoes or berries in smoothies, with yogurt or in fruit compotes or cold soups. Have bananas, berries, kiwis or raisins on cereal or in yogurt.
  • Add apples, pears, peaches, strawberries or oranges to salads.

Enjoy vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.

  • Avoid adding butter or margarine and rich sauces to vegetables. Learn more about oils and fats.
  • Skip the french fries, poutine, and other deep-fried vegetables like tempura, zucchini sticks and onion rings. Have a baked potato, sweet potato or salad instead.
  • Use fresh or dried herbs, spices, flavoured vinegar or lemon juice instead of salt to enhance the flavour of vegetables.

Keep vegetables and fruit fresh and safe to eat.

  • Use vegetables and fruit that are not damaged or wilted.
  • Store vegetables and fruit properly to avoid spoilage.

    • Leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower should be kept refrigerated and used within a week.
    • Frozen vegetables and fruit can be kept for up to one year.
    • Date canned goods at purchase and consume them within one to two years or before their "use by" date if applicable.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly before eating, peeling, or if intended to be eaten raw.
  • Cut raw vegetables and fruit on clean cutting boards that have not been used to cut or prepare raw meat, raw poultry or raw fish.

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