We all know eating fruits and veggies is an important part of a healthy diet.

In particular, fruits and vegetables can be an important tool when it comes to controlling weight, according to Melinda Brock, dietician at Woodward Regional Hospital.

"They're filling, low in calories and they have no fat," she said.

With 67 percent of adults and nearly one in 3 children either overweight or obese in the state, weight control is a critical issue for the health of many Oklahomans, Brock said.

Since September is National Fruits & Veggies--More Matters Month, The News recently visited with Brock about tips everyone should know when it comes to getting your apple a day.

When eating fruits and vegetables, think color, Brock said. While all fruits and vegetables have different vitamins and minerals, the brighter the color, the more vitamins and minerals they have, she said.

Because of their inherent nutrient content, fruits and vegetables have other added health benefits besides helping maintain a slimmer waistline, Brock said.

"Eating fruits and vegetables also lowers the risk of cancer," she said.

But the way you cook your fruits and veggies could have an impact on how many vitamins and minerals you actually consume.

Brock said fresh items have a lot of fiber and eating items raw or steaming them allows you to get all of those vitamins and minerals.  However, cooking items in water can make them lose some of those healthy nutrients, she said.

As a rule of thumb, she said, "Don't cook it until it's mush."

One obstacle many parents may have to deal with is getting their children to eat their fruits and veggies.

"With my kids I tell them to just try it once and if you don't like it, it's okay, at least you tried it," Brock said.

Other ways to help children get healthier items in their diet is hiding them, she said.  Dicing, grounding, or pureeing vegetables will make them easier to hide in things like spaghetti sauce or lasagna, she said.

Another way to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables is to get them involved with creative food projects. Making "ants on a log" with celery, peanut butter, and raisins or "strawberry mice" with chocolate tipped eyes, a licorice tail and almond ears are just a couple of fun ideas, Brock said.

"If they make it themselves, they're more likely to eat it," she said.

For more ideas, information or recipes to help put more fruits and veggies in your diet, visit the Strong and Healthy Oklahoma website at www.ok.gov/strongandhealthy as well as the Produce for Better Health Foundation website at www.pbhfoundation.org.

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