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Why eating five, ten or more
servings of fruit and vegetables each day is easier than it sounds.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally tasty, nutritious and low in calories. The best diet is one abundant in fruits and vegetables. Among other benefits, they are rich in phytochemicals that protect us against cancer and other diseases (itís more accurate to say that the absence of large quantities of phytochemicals in our diets causes cancer and other diseases). These powerhouses of nutrition are also packed with beneficial fiber and water, which contribute to satiety, prevention of disease and, importantly, weight control.
It is recommended that women eat a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. The American Cancer Society urges men to eat nine servings of fruits and veggies a day. I donít think that goes far enough, though. All adults and adolescents should eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and veggies per day and children a minimum of five. In other words, produce should constitute the bulk of any diet whether vegetarian or not.
Most of us react with shock at the prospect of eating so many servings of fruits and vegetables. Thatís because our cultural norms inform us that high-calorie packaged food, meat, concentrated fats like butter and mayonnaise and other non-plant foods should make up the lionís share of our breakfast, lunch and dinnertime calories. But our bodies are expecting that a high percentage of our daily calories will come in the form of fruits and vegetables.
In fact itís easier than you might think to get the recommended number of servings. A fruit salad with lunch that includes an apple, a banana, an orange and a half cup of berries equals four servings of fruit. Add a small salad for dinner and the minimum recommendation for women is satisfied.
Wasnít that easy? Now add a glass of orange juice for breakfast, a couple of vegetables for dinner and throw a delicious snack of a half a mango in there and you've got nine easy servings.
Itís even easier when we eliminate junk food and other empty calorie foods altogether.
If you take a look at a one-cup measuring cup, which equals eight ounces, youíll notice that it doesnít hold very much. A six-ounce glass of juice makes one serving -- thatís less than one cup. This is not to say that having all your daily servings of fruit in the form of juice is the best practice. Fresh fruit is usually best when you do your own mastication. Fresh squeezed juice is usually not better than eating whole fruits. Juicing, blending, processing or cooking plants can reduce the amount of nutrients and enzymes. Of course, there are a few exceptions. Tomatoes, for instance, are richer in vitamin C when fresh, but when cooked they lose vitamin C and their content of lycopene, a beneficial antioxidant, increases.
Here are some easy ways to boost your consumption of fruits and veggies:
As I always say, itís not just about looking healthy, itís about being healthy, which is easily achieved by adopting a healthful and active lifestyle consisting of daily exercise and an eating plan abundant in fruit, vegetables and other plant foods. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies are essential for not only optimum health, but also staying slim and trim.
A Personal Note
I have a question about soy (tofu, tempeh, etc). A lot of people, myself included, have a real problem digesting soy products. Most of the vegan recipes really concentrate on soy as an ingredient and a main source of protein. Even Dr. Weil's advice is to "eat more soy!Ē I'm not sure how to get enough protein on a vegan diet, since I have to avoid soy for digestive reasons. My body just does not deal well with it. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks again,
Tom, Overland Park, Kansas
A: Dear Tom, thank you and welcome aboard. Thatís a great question. Research suggests that eating soy protein helps protect against cardiovascular disease.
As you point out, however, not everyone can or wants to eat soy. And even those who do should also get plenty of non-soy sources of protein.
In fact, there is controversy about the benefits of soy, especially certain compounds found in soy beans, namely, isoflavones. Some studies suggest that high intake of isoflavones lowers risk of breast cancer but others claim it increases the risk. The key to soy as with so many healthy foods is moderate consumption. A well-balanced diet consists of diverse and varied whole foods.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other great protein sources for vegans. For example, seitan is an excellent alternative to meat and soy products, and it also provides high-quality protein. Other specific sources include whole grains (barley, buckwheat, millet, oat, brown rice and quinoa), legumes (lentils, black-eyed peas, split peas, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, etc.), nuts (best raw and unsalted such as almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, walnuts) and seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower).
Whether you eat soy or don't eat soy, the important thing is to get plenty of protein from a wide variety of plant-based foods.
The Research Department
A new study conducted at the
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and published by the British
Journal of Cancer has found that mixing cigarette smoke and saliva
highly increases the chances of developing mouth cancer.
Radish and Tomato Relish (vegan)
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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.
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