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The latest trend in medical prescriptions isn’t a pill, cream, or injectable: It’s the bounty of the produce section.

Through programs like Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Plan and HealthPartners’ vegetable prescription initiative in Minnesota, doctors across the country are prescribing vegetables and fruits to combat obesity.

While the Rx’d veggies movement — which focuses on overweight and obese children, and their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes — sounds unconventional in a medical world that includes surgery, drugs, and generic advice to “eat less and move more,” it’s no secret that produce packs a powerful nutritious punch.

Here are some ways that fruits and vegetables improve your health, inside and out:

1. They’re full of phytonutrients. These plant-based micronutrients may protect against chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

2. They feed your body — and your brain. According to Mark Hyman, MD, plant-based carbohydrates such as vegetables and fruits play an integral role in brain function and mood regulation.

3. They’re a good source of fiber, a natural detoxifier that impacts health in more ways than one.

4. You can grow your own. The act of tending a garden has numerous health benefits beyond the edible harvest, thanks to the physical activity, exposure to fresh air and dirt, and lessons in patience and delayed gratification that are inherent in the process.

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