How to Add a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet to Protect Your Health
by David Kekich
The quarter of the population eating the fewest fruits and vegetables has over three times as much heart disease as the quarter of the population that eats the most. Eat a minimum of six servings of fresh vegetables per day. This isn’t as much as it seems. One serving equals only one-half cup or one cup if they are leafy vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to stay with brightly colored veggies. And eat a wide variety—mostly raw and organic, if possible.
Also add one to three servings of fresh fruit per day. Again have a wide variety—and again, raw and organic if possible. Buying local produce may be more important than buying organic, since freshness is so important. You’re better off buying fresh, vibrant, conventionally grown produce than wilted organic.
Stay away from white potatoes, too. Your body reacts to them like it reacts to white bread. Increasing vegetables and fruits from two servings to only five servings a day can cut the incidence of many cancers in half. That’s only two and one-half cups. Consider getting a Vita Mix. It’s like a kitchen in one appliance and is the best juicer on the market.
Make sure you get your money’s worth from your juicer. Drink five glasses of fresh juiced fruits and veggies every week. I combine them in my drinks, changing the mix each time. As an alternative, you might get a high quality “green drink” in powder form. Mix with water and drink every day. There are lots of good ones on the market. I use Barlean’s Greens and Life Extension’s Vital Greens Mix.
The human body evolved with a diet that was high in fruits and vegetables. If you fight nature with your diet, your health and energy level will tank. People are shocked at how much better they feel after substituting high-fiber foods for fast foods and processed foods. You need fiber to regulate your bowels, for good colon health and for weight loss if you are overweight. Eating fruits and vegetables increases your fiber intake. Juicing makes it easy.
How you combine your foods is also important. The best combinations are proteins or fats with vegetables, vegetables with simple carbohydrates or vegetables with fat. Combining your fruit with protein and healthy fats slows sugar/carbohydrate absorption. In fact, make protein the first bite of each meal to slow absorption even more. That means less fat storage, longer lasting energy levels and fewer food cravings shortly after you eat. And you will easily accomplish that by eating less. In fact, even if you eat unhealthy food from time to time, eating less of it at each meal can be almost as important as eating the right food.
Remember to lower your carbohydrate intake by replacing high-calorie, low-nutrient carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, rice, table sugar, soda, candy) with low-calorie, high- nutrient carbohydrates (brightly colored fruits and vegetables and sweet potatoes).
If you add sweeteners to anything, the healthiest sugar substitute we know of is stevia. Stevia is a delicious natural herb sweetener with added health benefits. You can find it your local health food store. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Most are toxic and can undermine your health.
For example, high doses of aspartame may lead to neurodegeneration. Aside from the damage it can do to your brain, aspartame can cause cancer. One well-controlled, peer- reviewed, seven-year study even found that as little as 20 mg per day can cause cancer in humans. One 12-ounce diet soda contains about 180 mg of aspartame, so you do the math for that risk!
It can also lead to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, memory and hearing loss and hormonal problems.
How about Splenda? That’s harmless, right? Well, look at what a recent study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found. Splenda reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent, contributes to weight gain, increases the pH level in your intestines (bad for your digestion) and affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you’re on certain medications.
“Diet soda anyone?”
In addition to changing what you eat, consider changing when you eat. The fluctuations in your insulin levels, which are so damaging to your system, can be controlled by eating smaller, more frequent meals. This will also boost your metabolism, causing calories to be burned faster, and will raise your energy level.
Research indicates that eating certain foods can help lower your risk of several diseases.
Eat at least four servings of vegetables a day — Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals, contain fiber, have no cholesterol, and are low in fat and calories. They’re a great source of many nutrients that appear to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Eat a variety of vegetables to get all the health benefits.
Eat at least three servings of fruits a day — Fruits are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Except for a few, such as avocado and coconut, they’re virtually free of fat. Fruits are a major source of nutrients that may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Choose a variety of fruits to get the most health benefits.
Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids — Eating at least two servings (about 4 ounces each) a week of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids — such as salmon, trout, tuna, herring and sardines — can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Instead of frying, bake or grill the fish. Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish (golden bass or golden snapper), which are higher in mercury. Tuna steak and albacore tuna generally have more mercury than canned light tuna. Plant sources of omega-3s may not have the same effect. These include canola oil, soybeans (whole and oil) and walnuts (whole and oil).
Choose whole-grain foods — Eating whole grains may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In addition to the more familiar wholegrain breads and cereals, add variety to your diet with hulled barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and wild rice.
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