Everyone agrees on the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables, but not enough people are following this important advice to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables – or more. Increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest changes you can make to increase your level of health, lose weight and gain fitness.
No matter what your reason for pursuing a healthier diet, eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to enjoy a delicious varied diet while enjoying greater levels of health. Adding more fruit and vegetables also gives you more variety which gives you a more varied source of nutrients.
Everyone knows the importance of a healthy diet to a healthy body, and fruits and vegetables are rich in the vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other micronutrients that make a diet healthy. In addition to all these advantages, fruits and vegetables are colourful, easy to use, abundant and inexpensive. Fruits and vegetables are great in soups, salads, as side dishes and as main courses. Plus they can be juiced or made into smoothies. There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables, and so many different ways to use them, that it is almost impossible to get bored with them.
One reason for the recommendation that everyone increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables is that many of these foods have been shown to have strong antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants are important to good health due to their ability to bind with and neutralize harmful elements called free radicals. These free radicals are thought to play a role in cancer, aging related illnesses and other conditions.
Normally, free radicals are neutralized automatically as part of the body’s natural processes. However, when the immune system has been weakened, or if you are just feeling run down, these antioxidant fighters may not be working at peak efficiency. Many fruits and vegetables have high amounts of many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C.
Since there are so many fruits and vegetables to choose from, it is important to choose the best ones for your diet. Of course the perfect fruits and vegetables for you are the ones you like the best. After all, you will have a hard time taking advantage of all that nutrition unless you actually eat the fruits and vegetables you buy. But don’t stick to the same old fruits and vegetables, try something new for more variety.
Getting the most fruits and vegetables for your limited food budget is an important consideration for most people. Fruits and vegetables are usually plentiful and inexpensive, but in some cases they can be somewhat pricey, especially in the winter months when most fruits and vegetables must be shipped long distances. In addition to the supermarket and local grocery store, farmers markets can be places to find the freshest fruits and vegetables at the lowest possible prices. Farmers markets and roadside produce stands are often excellent sources of fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables.
Even when there is no farmers market nearby, it is still possible to get great, high quality fruits and vegetables at some excellent prices, simply by buying those fruits and vegetables as they come into season. Buying in season fruits and vegetables is usually cheaper than buying produce that comes from far away, and locally grown produce is often fresher and more nutritious as well.
Many people recommend buying a variety of colours when shopping for fruits and vegetables, and not just because they look good on the plate together. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutritional qualities, so eating a wide variety of colours will give you the best selection of flavors, textures, tastes and nutrients.
Cooking vegetables properly is important as well, since overcooking can destroy some of the nutritional value of many vegetables. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are particularly vulnerable to nutrient loss due to overcooking. It is best to lightly steam vegetables in the microwave or on the top of the stove. When steaming vegetables for maximum nutrition, it is important to use as little water as possible. Use only enough water to keep the vegetable from burning, and remove them from the heat source as soon as possible. Alternatively eat more raw vegetables as well as fruit.
No matter what your reason for following a healthy diet, you will find that eating more fruits and vegetables is a delicious, as well as a nutritious, way to get the vitamins and minerals you need every day.
We are always being told by the news, magazines, or on television how we should be eating healthier. Regularly this includes the latest superfood that is a must and can solve all our nutrition problems. It may be as common as broccoli or more often some unusual tropical fruit that costs a fortune. In reality any food that is wholesome, fresh and full of nutrients is a superfood. Fruits and vegetables – broccoli, apples, prunes, berries, carrots, cabbage, etc. Nuts and seeds, peas and beans and even an egg is a superfood as far as nutrient content goes. Though you should not eat more than maybe 4 or 5 eggs a week.
You don’t need to spend a fortune or chase after some overpriced berry to have a healthy nutritious diet. The Nutrition Diet is one way of following a healthy diet and making nutrient content the basis of your diet. Even the experts are getting on the nutrition food bandwagon. Michelin starred chefs are producing nutritionally balanced dishes in their top restaurants – gourmet health food as they put it. (At a price). This is good news and good to see that I am not the only one promoting nutrition as the basis of diet. But if you can’t afford to eat at a michelin starred restaurant you can still do simple things that enhance the nutrient content of your diet with your own superfoods.
When you have soup add a handful of chopped coriander or parsley for added nutrients. Do the same with pizza or pasta, sprinkling the herbs on the top. The herbal and medicinal benefits of garlic can be gained by adding finely chopped raw garlic to vegetables, especially tasty when sprinkled on broccoli or brussel sprouts – also superfoods.
More sprinkles – this time seeds – sunflower, pumkin, sesame, etc added to salads and breakfast cereals. Also add seeds and raisins to coleslaw.
Save your vitamins from cooking vegetables by using the water used to cook the vegetables. Make soup or gravy with it or even cook your pasta in the vegetable water. The pasta will absorb some of the vitamins in the water.
Another way to add nutrients to a dish is to use spinach or even rocket as an extra to pasta dishes. While cooking your pasta, chop the spinach or rocket roughly and add to the boiling pasta. Some of the nutrients from the greenery will be absorbed and when you drain the pasta you have tasty pieces of greenery mixed with the pasta.
What else – add a squeeze of lemon juice to your glass of water, grate a little fresh ginger into your tea. Use your imagination and your own ideas to add nutrient quality to your food and make your own superfoods at little extra cost.
We don’t just need food to satisfy ourselves and our hunger. The cells of the body also need nutrition. The body develops from a single cell and every part of our body is a collection of cells continually dying, being replaced, being repaired and maintained. The nutrients we get in our food have to be sufficient for cells to carry out this work as they are essential to our being.
Each cell has a nucleus containing the body’s DNA. Chromosomes are clusters of DNA molecules in a cell containing 1000′s of genes. Each cell contains 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Genes carry the genetic code for the formation of the body and every gene is a tiny piece of DNA.
Chromosomes are therefore part of our genetic make up. Shortages of nutrients causes cell damage including breaks in the chromosomes, which leads to disease. Folic acid is one nutrient needed for DNA repair and other nutrients also work at a cellular level providing the nutrients needed. We therefore need to be aware of the importance of a nutrient rich diet. Not just to feed us on a general level but also to supply the nutrients that are necessary for the very basics of our being – the cells.
If the cells don’t get the food needed they can’t operate properly and disease is more likely. The lack of nutients goes unnoticed until it is too late and the damage is done. This is one of the reasons that we should all be following a nutrient rich diet now, as a preventative measure and to help ensure a long and healthy life.
As you know I go on about eating more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eating more raw foods is one way of getting more nutrition from your diet. Most fruit is eaten raw and then there are salads – the limit of most peoples raw vegetable experience. But other vegetables are also tasty raw and can be added to any meal or salad. Cauliflower is crisp and sweet raw and nothing like its boiled version. Then of course there is carrot either grated or cut into sticks. The white of leeks is also tasty and succulent chopped on salad. Beetroot and turnip can also be grated raw onto you salad leaves and then of course there are the herbs - parsley, basil, coriander etc.
So as you can see taking more raw foods is not difficult and you also add variety to a meal which is also important for getting a wider variety of nutrients. More fruit and vegetables are also good for your health. Just this week a report from a Canadian study showed that more fruit and vegetables in your diet can weaken the effects of faulty genes that cause illness. Healthy foods apparently modify genetic code variants that would otherwise increase the risk of heart disease. The scientists analysed DNA of 27000 people from a variety of backgrounds looked at their dietary habits in relation to heart disease.
It is not just the faulty genes that may cause heart disease that may be corrected by a healthier diet. There is a new field of epigenetics – the study of how our genes react to our behaviour, including diet and lifestyle. Epigenetics plays an important role in mediating between nutrition and the ensuing phenotypic changes throughout our life and seem to be partly responsible for biological changes that occur during aging. Recent studies indicate that because nutrition modulates epigenetic events associated with disease (e.g. cancer, diabetes) there is in theory a link between nutrition and a longer life. Nutrition has a strong impact on these epigentic processes and therefore has a role in health. Just type in google – epigenetics and nutrition for more infomation, though some of it is a bit scientific.
It now seems that what we eat affects our genes and we also inherit the affects of what our parents ate. But this need not be permanent and if a parent had heart disease or cancer and you inherit the faulty gene that causes the problem you don’t have to think that you will also inherit the illness. The problem need not be permanent. As the new study by the Canadian scientists shows, your faulty genes can be corrected by diet. It appears that we can control the health of our genes and diet can correct and control genes that are not working properly. Nutrients and bio active food components can influence epigenetic phenomena. No doubt there will be more on this in the future as more studies follow.
Once again it shows the importance of healthy nutritious food in a wide and varied diet together with a healthier lifestyle including more exercise. As I said at the beginning eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and as wide a variety as possible which you can do without much planning or changes to your existing diet. There is plenty of information on a nutrition diet and tips on how to vary your diet in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which is available totally free as a download from www.obooko.com (under heading Health and Self Improvement.)
The past few years have seen a plenty of interest in healthy living and healthy eating, and that is a good thing. We all know that most people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and that many people eat too much of the wrong things – like sugar, salt, processed and junk foods and fat. Reversing this trend will take some time and some effort, but starting with adding nutrition to your own diet is a great way to improve your health and your life.
The key to changing your diet, of course, is to change it in ways that you can live with for a lifetime. The reason that most diet and lifestyle changes fail is that they are too difficult to follow once the initial excitement has worn off. The key is to make small changes, simple changes, that you can follow for the rest of your life.
Where you start your healthy eating plan depends in great part on your particular goals. For many people, a healthy eating program can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. For others, a healthy eating plan will require a radical change in the way they shop, cook, and eat. But these changes can still be done gradually as part of your busy lifestyle.
Since healthy eating means so many different things to different people, it is impossible to come up with a single healthy eating guide that will be right for everyone. The runner toning up for a marathon will have different nutritional needs than the factory worker who wants to lose 20 pounds. But everyone can benefit from a more nutritious diet.
No matter what the goal, however, it is important to eat a variety of foods, and to make smart choices when shopping, when cooking and when eating. Eating out can present special challenges, and it is important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients of the foods you order in your favorite restaurant. But don’t get worried by the occasional lapse as long as the majority of the time your diet is healthy and nutritious. Still enjoy a meal out or a party.
Making healthy food choices means eating more of the good foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc., and less of the bad foods, like salt, sugar and fats and especially processed and junk foods and ready meals.
Starting by eating more high nutrition, low calorie foods is a good place to start. Luckily, the produce section of the local supermarket is likely to contain hundreds of different examples of such foods. Fruits and vegetables are almost always low in calories and fat, and they are generally very nutritious as well.
Since variety is so important to a healthy diet, it is a good idea to try out a sampling of different fruits and vegetables on your first healthy eating shopping trip. Start with some of the fruits and vegetables you have always wanted to try but never gotten around to. For instance, many people have never tasted asparagus, spinach or Brussels sprouts. While some love these foods and others hate them, you will never know unless you try them for yourself. Don’t forget you can also improve nutrition and variety by adding to your existing diet, such as adding a grated carrot on your salad.
This kind of foraging is a great way to introduce yourself to foods you have never tried before. It is a great way to try new things, and you just might discover a new favorite food while you’re at it.
Experimenting with cooking new uses for fruits and vegetables is another great idea. There are lots of healthy cooking recipes and cookbooks on the market, and a new cookbook can be a great motivator for healthy eating.
It is important to remember that making your diet healthier does not necessarily mean making a radical change. Simple changes like adding extra portions of fresh vegetables and reducing the meat content of a meal or adding extras to a coleslaw are one way. Also eat more raw foods and gain the benefit of better levels of enzymes.
As a matter of fact, in the long run the simplest and easiest to follow changes are the ones that matter most. That is because making easy changes means that you will be able to stick with them for the long run. Healthy eating is a marathon, not a sprint.
The importance of good nutrition and its relationship to good health is widely acknowledged in many circles yet little used in mainstream healthcare. A few minutes with the doctor and a prescription for a pill – the quick fix. Probably no mention of nutrition even when the pill you are given could affect your nutrition wellbeing. Take antibiotics and HRT. Both widely prescribed and both interfering with nutrition. Both damage the beneficial gut flora. We are often told of the need for healthy gut flora but how many patients are told to take a probiotic supplement or good bio yoghurt when prescribed antibiotics.
The same goes for treatment of some common medical problems. Diagnosis is made and pills prescribed, yet no thought of nutrition advice which could be used to treat the problem is given. It would also be cheaper to use nutrition and not have a pill. There again perhaps we are partly to blame in that we would rather take the easy way out and take a pill. The alternative is to actually have to think about taking some action ourselves and make permanent changes to our diet and/or lifestyle.
Basic common health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are a case in point. Both problems are widespread and millions of prescriptions made out at huge costs when in many cases diet and lifestyle changes are able to solve the problem and as a bonus avoid side effects from the medications prescribed! It is also cheaper to the health services, but doesn’t help the drug companies.
There is also increasing pressure these days for healthy people to be given medication as a preventative measure even if they don’t have a problem. No doubt the drug companies would agree that there is a problem and want to give out more pills for profit. Nearly every month there is a news release on how wonderful Statins are and that it is just discovered that they can also help with another serious illness as well as lower cholesterol. So lets get more people on them. But no mention of side effects – some serious. The common on that is quoted is the muscle problems with still, weak or aching muscles. That’s ok though as we have a pill for that as well. Statins can though cause serious liver problems. They are also counter productive in that they actually block a nutrient needed for heart function. COQ10 is blocked by statins but do the doctors tell you to take extra COQ10 when they write out your prescriptions.
As for high blood pressure the same applies. Instead of taking a pill to lower your blood pressure eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, oily fish and soluble fibre and take more exercise. Add to that plenty of raw garlic. Tip – chop garlic and sprinkle on vegetables with a little butter, delicious.
There is also little evidence that taking medication to reduce blood pressure actually prevents future strokes. It doesn’t mean they don’t work but no proper studies have been done to prove they work. It is however fact that high blood pressure is a silent killer and even people with ‘normal’ blood pressure may be at risk. People with blood pressure at the high end of normal (120-139 over 80-89) have a higher risk of stroke than those at normal and below. So at least get your blood pressure regularly checked so you can do something about it if it higher than it should be. Hopefully by making a change in diet and leading a healthier lifestyle.
Most medications have side effects whether obvious or hidden and long term, and so if health can be improved and illness avoided by diet and nutrition then it is common sense to make the changes. It is not that difficult once you set your mind to doing something and you can do it gradually to fit in with you busy schedule and family life if necessary. The is plenty of information and food tips in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which you can download free at www.obooko.com (under heading of Health and Self Improvement)