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Erie County health commissioner: No worries, eating greens is good for you

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and others visited Eden Family Growers in the Southtowns this week to debunk fears that it’s best to avoid Romaine lettuce after a Yuma, Ariz., based E.coli outbreak that occurred in the spring.

The last shipments of romaine from Yuma took place April 16, and their harvest season is over, the FDA has reported, and it’s extremely unlikely that any romaine from that region is still available in homes, grocery stores or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life.

Supermarkets and farm markets that sell locally grown produce are great ways to access a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including lettuce and other greens, the health commissioner said in a news release.

“Approximately 90 of Americans do not get the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Easy access to quality produce makes taking the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables more achievable. Food and nutrition play a crucial role in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease.”

The four most common lettuces – green leaf, romaine, butter head and iceberg – all are sources of protein and dietary fiber, and good sources of vitamins, particularly vitamins A and K. The darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green is generally.

Fiber in fruits, vegetables, and legumes also is important. Diets rich in fiber-containing foods may reduce the risk of heart disease. Fiber is also important for regularity, especially as we grow older and constipation can become a challenge.

Burstein shared the following tips for healthy eating:

Vary your vegetables
Eat more dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens. Orange vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash are healthy, as are dry beans and peas including pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.

Focus on fruit
Eat a variety of fruits – whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried – rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices.

Portion control counts
If you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need about 2 to 2½ cups of fruit and 2 to 2½ cups of vegetables each day and a half cup of beans or peas most days (four to five times a week).

“A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes”, Burstein said.

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