Natural healers have long known about the power of fruits and vegetables. Did you know that green leafy vegetables have almost 20 times more essential nutrients, ounce for ounce than any other food? Fruit (eaten properly) and vegetables contain all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids the human body requires. Fruit is, without exception, the most cleansing and most easily digested food you can eat. Both fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber which help the cleansing process. Water transports toxins from the cells and tissues of your body, and fiber keeps the eliminative system working.
I did previously mention the importance of eating fruit “properly”. This means it should be eaten fresh and apart from any other food, with the exception of plain, unsweetened yogurt. The reason being, fruit takes less digestive energy than any other food. When you eat fruit with or after other food, the sugar ferments instead of being assimilated, creating gas. The body then has to work very hard to process the remaining food. Because yogurt is a cultured food, it is predigested by virtue of the live enzymes it contains, and is very easily assimilated. Fruit does not digest in the stomach, as other foods do. It is digested partially in the mouth when you chew it, bypasses the stomach, and is digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Cooking or canning fruit destroys its nutrients and its sugars turn acidic, making it of no benefit to the body.
There are studies that show that people who eat lots of vegetables have half the cancer risk of people who eat few vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables accelerate body cleansing and proper elimination of wastes, which in turn normalizes body chemistry. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants like Vitamin C and mixed carotenoids (converts to Vitamin A in the body). Antioxidants support and protect your immune system.
One of the many beneficial elements of fruits and vegetables are bioflavonoids, a significant part of the vitamin C complex. Bioflavonoids:
o Build a protective antibiotic barrier against infection
o Boost immune response
o Are anti-inflammatory
o Help relieve allergies and asthma
o Assist in preventing cardiovascular disease
o Protect eye health
o Detoxify your body of carcinogenic chemicals, radiation and heavy metals
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods you can find. This means that they are packed with nutrients in comparison to the number of calories they contain. As a result, they are essential for any kind of weight loss program. You can eat as much of them as you want, which can’t be said about any other kind of food.
In case you’re saying to yourself, “Yes, but it’s so hard to eat fresh fruits and vegetables… I’m just too busy… how can I eat more of them,” I have listed some ideas below that I think will help simplify matters for you.
How is it best to shop for, store and prepare fruits and vegetables?
o Use leafy greens, broccoli, berries and ripe fruit within two or three days of purchase to get the most out the vitamin content.
o Rinse fruits and vegetables under cold running water. Avoid soaking.
o Cook vegetables such as potatoes, beets and sweet potatoes whole or in large pieces and in their skins to preserve vitamins.
o Cook vegetables by lightly steaming or using a pressure cooker until just tender.
o Grilling, roasting and stir-fry are also excellent ways to cook vegetables.
o Don’t boil them in water, unless you drink the water or use it in a soup or as a broth. The water-soluble vitamins will escape into the cooking water.
o Shop just for two or three day’s worth of most fruits and vegetables at a time to preserve their freshness.
o Don’t eat canned fruits or vegetables. They contain very few nutrients and too much sodium and/or sugar (added as preservatives).
Tips for including more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
o Take a piece of fruit with you to work or school for a mid-morning snack.
o Have fruits and vegetables cut up and ready to eat on the refrigerator shelf.
o Combine fruits of different colors, flavors, and textures like red grapes and pineapple chunks.
o Fill half of your plate with vegetables first, then add the other food.
o Try a new fruit or vegetable.
o Make a point to have at least two vegetables every night for dinner. Make one of them a “high-powered” choice like carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, red pepper, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, squash or eggplant. Rule of thumb: The more intense the color, the more nutrients it contains.
o Add fresh vegetables to foods you already eat, like to pasta, or rice.
o Experiment with different ways to cook vegetables – grilling, roasting, stir-fry, streaming
o Experiment with fresh or dried herbs and seasonings for flavoring.
o Eat fruit for breakfast and vegetables with lunch and dinner.
The human body is designed to consume a diet that is predominantly vegetarian. Fruits and vegetables are true healers and, for optimal health, should constitute the majority of the food you eat every day.
Merry Rose is a Certified Nutritionist with a private practice in Los Angeles. She has been passionate about nutrition for over 25 years. Formerly, a professional singer and dancer, she noticed that what she ate and drank had a tremendous impact on her level of energy and overall health. Merry received her certification (CN) from the National Institute of Nutritional Education. Merry designs personal nutrition programs for a broad range of issues with an emphasis on womens and childrens health. She is the consulting nutritionist for the Nike Fitness Academy.
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