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We have all been told we should eat fruits and vegetables because they are good for us, but how are they good for us, and how can we encourage kids to eat more of them?

At St. David’s Center, we focus on child and family development, and one crucial piece of healthy development is a nutrient-rich diet. Since September is National Fruits and Veggies Month, now is a great time to teach our children all about these important – and delicious – foods!

Fruits & Vegetables Are Part of a Healthy Plate

The graphic on the left is referred to as MyPlate. It provides a visual to help plan meals that include all five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy). As you can see, fruits and vegetables account for half of the MyPlate!

Take a moment: What do your meals usually look like? While it is not necessary to have all five food groups at every meal, the graphic serves as a great reference for how to structure your overall diet. All the food groups pictured contribute to a balanced diet. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy work together to help build and maintain healthy bodies.

5 Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are…

  • delicious! They provide a variety of colors, textures, and flavors that other food groups cannot.
  • nutrient-dense. This means they are rich in nutrients in proportion to their calorie content. Fruits and vegetables are lower calorie and lower-fat foods that offer your body a lot of vitamins and minerals.
  • a great source of fiber. Fiber supports a healthy digestive system and is helpful in relieving constipation.

They also…

  • reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
  • contain water and electrolytes. Fruits and vegetables, along with water and other fluids, can help keep your body hydrated.

How to Explain Their Health Benefits

A great way to explain the health benefits of different fruits and vegetables is with the colors of the rainbow. The colors, flavors, and wonderful smells of fruits and vegetables are from phytonutrients. “Phyto” = plant. Phytonutrients (often referred to as “antioxidants”) work together with vitamins and minerals to protect our bodies’ cells and our overall health.


  • Examples: cherries, raspberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, tomatoes
  • Health benefits: These promote heart health and a good memory.
  • Phytonutrients: lycopene, carotenoids

Orange & Yellow

  • Examples: apricots, grapefruit, oranges, carrots, corn, butternut squash
  • Health benefits: These promote good eyesight, a strong immune system, and heart health.
  • Phytonutrients: carotenoids (such as beta-carotene), lutein

White, Tan, & Brown

  • Examples: bananas, white peaches, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions
  • Health benefits: These support heart health and cancer prevention.
  • Phytonutrient: allicin


  • Examples: avocados, kiwi, green apples, asparagus, cucumbers, broccoli
  • Health benefits: These protect eyesight and support strong bones and teeth.
  • Phytonutrients: lutein, zeaxanthin

Blue & Purple: 

  • Examples: purple grapes, blueberries, plums, eggplant, cabbage, black olives
  • Health benefits: These support a good memory, heart health, and cancer prevention.
  • Phytonutrients: anthocyanins
Eat meals together as a family, and role model by trying all the foods yourself. Rather than requesting children eat a particular food being served, allow them to observe you eating and enjoying the foods.

How to Encourage Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Some kids love fruits and vegetables, while others may not be as interested in eating them. For those whose children are more wary, here are some tips to encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies:

  1. Offer a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal. If you can get both on the plate, even better! Offering fruits and vegetables frequently throughout the day increases the chances your child will consume more of them.
  2. Have fresh fruits and vegetables prepped in advance for easy healthy snacking throughout the day. Cut up fruits and vegetables, and put them in containers or Ziploc bags for quick grab-n-go options. If the kids prefer, add a yummy dip!
  3. Canned and frozen fruits and veggies are quick to serve and are still very nutritious. Having these options in the pantry or freezer makes it easy to add fruits and vegetables at any meal or snack.
  4. Incorporate kids in preparing and cooking meals and snacks. Children may be more open to trying foods they’ve helped prepare.
  5. Eat meals together as a family, and role model by trying all the foods yourself. Rather than requesting children eat a particular food being served, allow them to observe you eating and enjoying the foods.
  6. Discuss the health benefits of the different colors of fruits and vegetables you’re eating. Take a look at the colors previously discussed. Next time you have tomatoes (for example), share with them that tomatoes help keep our brains and memories strong!
  7. Remove pressure to try all the foods at the meal. Instead, allow children to try foods they’re interested in that day. It is the caregiver’s responsibility to decide what is served, when it is served, and where it is served. Kids are in charge of whether they eat and how much they eat. This is called the Division of Responsibility and helps kids develop a healthy relationship with foods. Often they’ll be more willing to try various foods!

Even after National Fruits and Veggies Month comes to an end, we can still celebrate these delicious foods every day! Next time you shop for groceries, take a few minutes to see what seasonal fresh produce is available. Then, take a look down the canned and frozen fruit and vegetable aisles. Between fresh, canned, and frozen, there are so many options available to us throughout the year. Take a moment to brainstorm healthy meals and snacks with your family, and let’s get cooking!


Read more about phytonutrients and the health benefits of fruits and veggies here:

What Are Phytonutrients? – Have A Plant (

phytonutrientsposter.pdf (

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables (

The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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