Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Nutrition: Study Reveals Surprising Ways to Eat Healthy in 2016 @DelMonte

Question: Do Americans families who eat canned veggies get the same nutrients as those who only eat fresh?

Answer: According to the study Canned Vegetable and Fruit Consumption Is Associated with Changes in Nutrient Intake and Higher Diet Quality in Children and Adults -- a dietary analysis of 24,000 Americans conducted between 2001-2010 by Dr. Marjorie Freedman (of San Jose State University) in association with the CFA -- the answer is a resounding "yes"!

Consider this:

* 94% of American adults are not eating enough fruits and vegetables
* Adults who eat canned produce eat 17% more vegetables and 19% more fruit than those who don't
* Adults who eat canned produce consume 7% more dietary fiber and 5% more potassium than those who don't
* Canned produce includes low-sodium options and non-GMO veggies like Del Monte Blue Lake Cut Green Beans

These nutritional benefits affect our kids, too:

* 9 in 10 kids don't eat enough vegetables and 6 in 10 kids don't eat enough fruit
* Kids who eat canned produce eat 22% more vegetables and 14% more fruit than those who don't
* Kids who eat canned produce consumed more protein, fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium (but less fat)

Experts believe that canned food has this surprising effect not only because canned produce carries nearly identical nutrients to its fresh-cooked counterparts, but they are also a cheaper and easier way to get recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies -- which can lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

To make nutritious New Year's Resolution goals more attainable than ever before, Del Monte has released a new series of "2016 Healthy Eating Hacks":

It's always healthy to eat fresh fruits and veggies, but because Del Monte canned produce provides very similar nutrient benefits to fresh-cooked produce, canned fruits and veggies are a much healthier option than, say, take-out pizza when fresh options aren't available in your fridge.

Pair less healthy foods with a side of vegetables and shift ratios on your plate so that the vegetables take up more room than the more indulgent food.


To infuse your favorite comfort foods with more vegetables, find hidden ways to make them higher in nutrients and lower in calories -- such as this Del Monte recipe for Sneaky Mac and Cheese:

Sneaky Mac and Cheese
Adapted from Del Monte 
Serves 4
3 cups water
1 tbsp kosher salt
8 oz. whole grain (or "Smart") short-cut pasta
1 can (14.5oz.) Del Monte Sliced Carrots, drained and rinsed
½ cup evaporated 2% milk
1 can (15.5 oz.) low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Salt and black pepper, optional
  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; add pasta and cook according to package directions, stirring frequently. DO NOT DRAIN.
  2. Meanwhile, place carrots, milk and beans in a blender and puree until smooth. 
  3. Stir pureed mixture into pasta until coated. Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.
  4. Stir in cheese and cook until cheese is melted and season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with toppings, as desired.

Here are some awesome Fruit & Vegetable Meal Tips to get more produce on your plate:

  • Don't let your family's hectic school year schedule get in the way of healthy eating. Pack Del Monte® Fruit Cups® and spoons in your car for a quick snack on the way to practices, play dates or the office.
  • Need an extra boost in the afternoon? Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, try some fruit and yogurt and a quick walk around the office or the block.
  • Fit more fruit into your family's diet by substituting fruit for less healthy options — choose fruit cups instead of baked goods for a sweet snack; choose a fruit smoothie instead of a milkshake; use applesauce in place of oil in baked goods.
  • Top Sun Fresh® Red Grapefruit slices with brown sugar and cinnamon and place under the broiler until sugar melts and grapefruit is warm.
  • Try fruit on your salad. Almost any fruit will work — pears, mandarin oranges, peaches, apples or strawberries. When using canned fruit, save the juice to make a tasty vinaigrette.
  • For a tasty dessert, try a bowl of baked Del Monte Sliced Pears and top with almonds and low-fat yogurt.
  • Fruit isn't just for dessert or snack-time. Try meat dishes that incorporate fruit, such as chicken with Del Monte Apricots or mango chutney.
  • Vegetables and Tomatoes
  • A hearty soup is perfect for fall and winter. Boost your vegetable intake by adding a can of Del Monte Spinach or Green Beans to your favorite soup.
  • Are your kids eating their veggies? Give them a choice for dinner and then have them help you with simple preparation, letting them open the can or put the vegetables in pan to cook. Getting kids involved will entice them.
  • Fit more vegetables into your family's diet by substituting veggies for less healthy options — in casseroles, add vegetables like Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn or spaghetti squash in place of starches such as rice or pasta; use pureed vegetables as a thickener for soups or gravies.
  • Need a quick side dish for dinner? Mix a can of Del Monte Peas and Carrots into brown rice and add your favorite chopped nuts for a quick rice pilaf.
  • If cornbread is on the menu, mix in a can of Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn to boost your vegetable intake and add extra fiber.
  • For a quick weeknight dinner, mix cooked chicken or shrimp with Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano.
  • For tastier, healthier vegetables, sauté them in chicken broth, rather than butter or oil.
  • Decorate plates or serving dishes with vegetable slices.
  • Veggies aren't just for dinner. Next time your scrambling eggs for the brunch, and some diced tomatoes, onions or peppers.

Because Del Monte's fruits and vegetables often go from farm to can in 8 hours or less, they can lock in key nutrients and allow Americans to enjoy the benefits of their favorite produce, even when not in season.

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!