There's nothing better than a sweet red watermelon on a hot summer day, or a steamy bowl of pumpkin bisque to keep you warm during the winter months. Fruits and vegetables are abundant and meant to be enjoyed, and incorporating them into your diet is an essential part of adding nutrients to your body.
Sometimes it may seem difficult to try and get the correct dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, especially if it's not normally on your plate. There's always a way to add them to your meals with delicious recipes. Now, thanks to a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, there is also another way to ensure you eat your colors and greens. The research showed that going outside and being in nature is linked to eating more fruits and vegetables.
For this study, researchers from Drexel University investigated how nature-relatedness—feeling connected with the natural world — benefits intake of fruits and vegetables as well as dietary diversity—the variety or the number of different food groups people eat over the time given. Nature-relatedness can include any exposure to the natural environment such as taking a walk outdoors or having a picnic in the park.
The researchers surveyed over 300 adults in Philadelphia between May and August 2017 and measured their self-reported connection to nature. This included their experience with nature and their perspective of it and the foods and beverages they had consumed the previous day. This helped to evaluate their dietary diversity and estimate their daily fruit and vegetable consumption.
The survey participants also copied the same demographic characteristics of Philadelphia from the 2010 census. This included gender, income, education, and race. The results showed that participants with a stronger connection to nature reported a more varied diet and ate more fruits and vegetables.
"This work can impact health promotion practices in two ways," says Brandy-Joe Milliron, Ph.D., lead author of the publication in the Journal. "First, nature-based health promotion interventions may increase nature-relatedness across the lifespan and potentially improve dietary intake. And second, augmenting dietary interventions with nature-based activities may lead to greater improvements in dietary quality."
According to the CDC, it's important to be eating fruits and vegetables. They add nutrients to your diet that help protect you from ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. They also say that choosing vegetables, fruits, and nuts over high-calorie foods can help you manage weight and aid weight loss. It's also important to note that you should either wash or cook your fruits and vegetables before consuming them. This ensures your safety from foodborne illnesses.