Have You Had Your Fruits and Vegetables Today? By now, we are all aware that eating more fruits and vegetables is as central to a healthy nutritional plan or program as drinking more water, consuming more omega 3 essential fatty acids, or eliminating sugars from the diet. While most vegetables are good, some are clearly better than others from a nutritional standpoint. The general rule is – the greener the better – and of course some red, yellow, and orange colored vegetables are healthy too. Remember, to practice having a colorful plate, not just white and brown foods.
Obviously, the Government’s Food Pyramid Guide has been less than ideal in educating people about balanced diets. I saw a study recently that showed that less than one-third of Americans eat enough fiber ( fruits and vegetables) in their diet. It is no wonder that the incidence of chronic degenerative conditions continue to climb each year, namely, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. I would have to agree with Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” who so aptly stated..”Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.”
Remember, if you choose to be healthier, you must make smarter food choices!!!
Your Parents Were Right – Fruits and Vegetables are Good for You
The importance of fruits and vegetables has been essentially drummed into us since childhood by parents and grandparents alike. While we all know that fruits and vegetables are good for you, many of us are still in the dark when it comes to knowing the reasons behind the importance of consuming them.
Our diet lays the foundation for our overall well-being and health. Like any other living organism on this earth, without correct nutrition, our bodies will simply start to wither and fail us. A balanced diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables provides our bodies with the ideal tools to facilitate optimum organ function, large supplies of vitality and energy to cope with day-to-day life, and the maintenance of a strong immune system to ward off disease.
A diet containing the correct amounts of fruits and vegetables is intricately related to the prevention of America’s top two causes of death, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has predicted that 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and over 500,000 will die from it. The role that diet plays is clearly demonstrated by the fact that 32% of these deaths could be related to eating patterns. The CDC has also reported that the consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown by recent studies to be associated with cardiovascular disease prevention.
In an effort to guide the American population into leading healthier lifestyles, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlines dietary recommendations in the MyPyramid food guide which is available to everyone. In the past, the MyPyramid food guide has recommended an average of five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. This is no longer the case. In order to lead a healthy lifestyle and combat serious illness, the USDA now recommends that we consume 2-6 and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per day – an obvious increase.
Now, you may be thinking that not many people will actually commit to including 6 cups of fruits and vegetables in their diet on a daily basis. Sadly, you are probably right. A study conducted by researchers at the USDA and the Cancer Institute found that 60% of the American population failed to keep up with the previous MyPyramid guidelines between 1999 and 2000. This does not bode well for the new, more stringent recommendations.
We live in an age of convenience which has greatly influenced the Standard American Diet. The “24/7 society” has forced many of us into making a choice between convenient food which we can prepare quickly and eat on the go, over foods which take longer to prepare but are rich in the nutrients our bodies require. A few simple adjustments to your dietary regime can easily set you on the right path to a healthy lifestyle:
- Replace potato chips with raw vegetables.
- Add fruit to your breakfast cereal.
- Replace coffee, tea and soda with juice.
- Explore your supermarket’s produce aisle. You will realize that many items such as raisins, grapes, cherry tomatoes and bananas can be used as great “on the go” food.