The Ohio State University Extension office offers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) which is a community nutrition program that aims to improve the health and well-being of limited resource audiences across Greene County. Funding for the program is from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
The SNAP-Ed program works with many agencies in the county to provide a series of programs to participants of all ages, who qualify for SNAP, to make nutritious and budget friendly choices.
Summertime brings warm weather, more time spent outside, and sometimes the temptation of lots of delicious food. With many holidays and family functions, it is harder to make healthier choices, but it may be easier than we think. This time of year is also the season that fruits and vegetables are more accessible and affordable.
Farmers’ Markets are great for the community not only for the opportunity to add healthier foods into our diet, but also giving back to the local economy by supporting local farms and producers. Growing a garden is another inexpensive way to get fresh produce, as well as good source of physical activity in the beautiful weather.
Seventy-five percent of Ohioans do not eat fruits and vegetables at least one time daily, but why is that so important? Fruits and vegetables provide us with many health benefits by not containing any cholesterol, reducing risk for heart disease, protecting against certain types of cancer, as well as many other benefits leading to an overall healthy diet.
One common nutrient that we receive from produce is dietary fiber, which is also linked to reducing risk of chronic diseases and obesity. Fiber is only obtained from plant-based food groups, which includes fruits, vegetables, and grains. On average Americans consume only half of their recommended daily fiber intake, primarily due to American diets being from protein and also high consumption of juice which provides no fiber.
The USDA recommends that half our plate be composed of fruits and vegetables, as demonstrated by MyPlate. While filling half the plate may seem difficult at first, by substituting produce for protein, a little at a time can go a long way for our health.
Fresh produce can be expensive but there are often more affordable ways to get fruits and vegetables onto our plates. Purchasing canned, frozen, or dried fruits and vegetables, and juices often are more budget friendly and can still provide the health benefits. Things to watch out for are the amount of sodium and sugar content of these products. Reading the label is a great start to look for that information, as well as the fiber value.
For more information on the SNAP-Ed Program contact the OSU Extension Office at 937-372-9971 or visit our office located at 100 Fairground Road, Xenia. To learn more about preserving left-over produce and canning from your home garden, attend our home preservation class at the Jamestown Library at 5 p.m. July 21.
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