Although health-minded people are incorporating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains into their diets, according to a recent survey by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we are still not consuming enough to make a major difference. In fact, Americans are only consuming 63 percent of the recommended amount of vegetables and only 38 percent of the amount of fruit needed for a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Amid the abundance of processed and fast food options that are mostly void of quality nutrients, one retailer is striving to make a difference in how we eat. Founded in 1990 with over 850 store locations globally, Jamba Juice offers wholesome meal and snack options including whole food nutrition smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and juice blends, hot teas, and a variety of food items including hot build-your-own oatmeal, breakfast wraps, and sandwiches. Jamba also leads the “Team Up for a Healthy America” program – a national campaign involving celebrities, athletes and community partners in the mission to improve childhood health and wellness.
To ensure an always-evolving menu that provides healthy meal and snack options, Jamba looks to the expertise of their Healthy Living Council, an independent group of registered dietitians and nutrition specialists.
Meet the Healthy Living Council:
Elizabeth Ward is a registered dietitian, nutrition consultant, and freelance writer, and her latest book is MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better. In addition to appearances on the Today Show and Dr. Oz Show, Elizabeth regularly writes for Muscle & Fitness, Hers and Men’s Fitness magazines, has been a contributing writer for WebMD, and serves on the Advisory Board for Men’s Fitness.
Kathleen Zelman is a registered dietitian, and has been the director of nutrition for the number one health and wellness website for more than eleven years. During her tenure, she has helped build a state-of-the-art food, diet and nutrition portal. She also serves as the nutrition expert for the United Healthcare Source 4 Women and United Healthcare television and a Health Professional Advisor to the Egg Nutrition Center providing guidance and expertise on issues of health and wellness.
Tara Gidus is the co-host of Emotional Mojo, a national television show and regularly appears as the “Diet Diva” on the national morning television show, The Daily Buzz. She currently serves as the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic NBA team, nutrition consultant to University of Central Florida Athletic Department and the official nutritionist for runDisney. Previously Tara served as the National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In a recent chat with these esteemed nutrition experts, they served up some great advice to help us eat a healthy, more balanced diet.
What would help curb the epidemic of childhood obesity?
Kathleen Zelman: Portion control, fewer nutrient-poor foods and more exercise. It is not one single food or beverage but too many calories in general and inadequate activity. Trying to make wise food decisions most of the time and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day is a great start.
What would be considered a well-balanced diet?
Tara Gidus: A well-balanced diet is one that balances a person’s caloric burn with their intake, something which varies greatly from person to person. It should include protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats each day.
How many servings of fruits and vegetables should an average adult consume? How about children and teens?
Elizabeth Ward: Fruit and vegetable suggestions are based on calorie needs, so a child may need between 3 and 5 servings, and teens, who often have the same calorie needs as adults, would need about 5 servings daily, and possibly more. The more active you are, the more calories you need to maintain your weight so the more fruits and vegetables you need. Very active people need upwards of 7 to 10 servings daily.
What are some ways people can easily increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they consume per day?
Elizabeth Ward: There are so many easy ways to boost fruit and vegetable intake to achieve the needed 5 servings a day. Here are my tips:
Fruit or fruit/vegetable smoothies
Replace meat with beans in chili and pasta dishes (beans are vegetables)
Add chopped vegetables to prepared pasta sauce or to your favorite lasagna recipe
Make homemade trail mix with nuts or seeds, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal
Prepare fruit-based desserts like baked apples or pears, or apple or pear crisp
Have fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack
Kathleen Zelman: Also consider enjoying smoothies, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices that include all the fiber from the fruit, topping yogurt, cereal and frozen treats with fruit, layering sandwiches and wraps with veggies, adding veggies to egg dishes, eating a salad at dinner, drinking vegetable juice, and the list goes on.
Tara Gidus: Fruits and vegetables are unfortunately an afterthought or not even a thought at all! Be conscious of looking for fruits and/or veggies at every meal. As far as how to get them, be creative: Smoothies, salads, soups, casseroles, etc. Add spinach and tomato to every sandwich you eat. Add fruits and veggies to common recipes and choose soups with a vegetable or bean-base (like black bean).
Use fruits and vegetables as snacks as well like a banana mid-morning, raw sliced red peppers and hummus mid-afternoon, and a bowl of berries in the evening. Instead of eating yogurt out of the cup, cut up some fresh fruit (oranges, grapes, berries, pineapple, etc.) and pour the yogurt on top. Have a smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit for a meal or a snack. Add kale, spinach, or freshly squeezed carrot or beet juice to boost the vegetable content.
“Pre-plan by cutting up fruit and or veggies and put them into easy-to-grab containers to take them on-the-go.”
What benefits do beets and darker, leafy veggies like kale or spinach offer?
Elizabeth Ward: Beets are brimming with antioxidants that help fight chronic disease as well as fiber, and several vitamins and minerals. Plus, they lend natural sweetness and an enticing hue to smoothies. On the whole, dark green leafy vegetables contain vitamin K, which helps build bone, beta-carotene that serves as the raw material for the body’s production of vitamin A, and calcium, vitamin C, and folate. The darker the green, the greater the health benefit, although I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t value, nutrition-wise!
What are the health benefits of juicing?
Kathleen Zelman: Juicing, when done for a meal or two is fine. Juices made with whole fruits and vegetables are best and can be a convenient way to meet produce requirements.
How does including berries in your diet benefit you?
Elizabeth Ward: Berries have antioxidants, including anthocyanins, quercetin, and vitamin C, that can help your body fight oxidative stress that can lead to chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Every fruit and vegetable has antioxidants, but berries have more than most. In addition to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, berries are mostly water, and are useful to keep you hydrated and to fill you up.
What are some of the benefits of a diet that includes oatmeal?
Tara Gidus: Oats are whole grains that provide an excellent source of fiber, iron, protein, and magnesium as well as a good source of potassium. The recommended intake of whole grains is 3 to 5 servings per day. Oatmeal is a great whole grain choice that can help meet this 3 to 5 servings a day goal. The recommended intake of fiber is 25g for women and 38g for men but according to the Harvard School of Public Health, most Americans only get about 15g of fiber per day.
Fiber helps to bind bile acids and results in a lowered cholesterol level reducing the risk of heart disease. Fiber also helps to control blood sugar levels, prevent constipation and makes you feel full faster making oatmeal a highly satisfying meal.
What are some ways busy parents can help their families eat better?
Tara Gidus: First and foremost, parents need to be role models for healthy eating for their kids. If kids don’t see a parent eating fruits and veggies, or if they are always eating chips or candy, the kids will likely follow suit.
Plan ahead. We are all extremely busy, and good nutrition isn’t easy to come by if it’s an afterthought. Take some time on the weekend to plan out the meals for the week. Batch cook so you have leftovers or a casserole that’s made up and can go into the oven. Utilize crock-pots for an easy meal that’s ready when you get home.
When dining out, read nutritional information from restaurants and have an idea of which places have good options for the entire family.
Elizabeth Ward: Have kids take fruit, nuts, yogurt, and other healthy snacks with them to school and to eat before sports and eliminate all sports drinks. Also have children come up with healthy meals and snacks they would like to try and get them involved in shopping for ingredients and making the food.
What do you think of Jamba Juice’s offerings and initiative for healthier eating?
Kathleen Zelman: I am really proud of Jamba Juice and their commitment to being part of the solution to help consumers eat healthier by offering a wide variety of good-for-you options. From the kid’s meals loaded with whole grains, fruits, veggies and protein, cholesterol lowering oatmeal, to the super nutritious fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices – there is something for everyone. Elite athletes can fuel up with fruit smoothies and dieters can enjoy the same smoothies made light or boost them with whole grains or satisfying protein.
Elizabeth Ward: As a member of the Healthy Living Council, I am proud to work with a company like Jamba that spends so much time and energy on developing delicious products that are good for you, too. Steel-cut oats, fresh squeezed and cold pressed juices, fruit and vegetable smoothies, and energy bowls are among the offerings that make it easier for you to work in the good nutrition that experts like me recommend.
By: Kelly Taggart
Photos: Courtesy of Jamba Juice