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Timeless Healthy Foods


Find out which foods & drinks should be on your grocery list to be healthier in 2010. Adding some key items to your menus can improve your health and help fight off illness.Healthy Fruits and Vegetables Fruits and vegetables are important foods because they provide essential nutrients, like vitamins, minerals and fiber, along with disease fighting compounds, like lycopene (a chemical that gives foods a red color), resveratrol (found in red grapes, wine and peanuts) and anthocyanin (found in blueberries, blackberries, cherries, kiwi, plums and eggplant).

A diet that includes plenty of fruits and veggies is associated with a reduced risk for obesity and many chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research shows higher intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with lower rates of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Health experts recommend eating at least five servings of some combination of fruits and vegetables every day. Ideally, for the most health benefits, Americans should eat closer to nine servings/day. However, the American Dietetic Association estimates 70 percent of Americans don’t get the minimum five servings a day.

Choosing Fruits and VeggiesFruits and vegetables are very versatile and easy to prepare. Many can be eaten raw, baked, grilled or sautéed. Some can be pureed and served as a juice or shredded into soups, main dishes and desserts. Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., Diet & Nutrition Expert with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the most important thing to keep in mind is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Here are some tips for getting more healthy fruits and veggies in your daily diet:
Think color. Fruits and vegetables gain their color from the healthy compounds they contain. Each color provides specific kinds of nutrients. Look for red, orange/yellow, green (especially dark green) and blue/purple.

Make them available. Keep clean, ready-to-eat fruits and veggies in the refrigerator for a quick bite. To combat the munchies, reach in the fridge and grab these instead of chips, cookies or other unhealthy snacks.

Don’t peel. Fernstrom says most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are in the peel or just under the skin. Before eating, wash the food very carefully with soap and water to remove dirt and contaminants.

Add variety to your meals. Chop up or shred fruits and vegetables and use them as pizza toppings or add them to salads, omelets and casseroles. This is a good way to sneak in vegetables when your family has picky eaters.

Freeze left-over chopped vegetables. They can be conveniently thawed and added to soups for extra flavor and nutrition.

Drink them up. Puree fruits and veggies for a healthy smoothie or breakfast on-the-run. Fruit juices can be frozen in ice trays and added to summer drinks. Add a stick to make a frozen treat for kids. Store-bought juices can be a good way to get extra servings of fruits and vegetables. However, Fernstrom advises people to limit the amount of prepared fruit juices because most of them have added sugar.

Supplement your diet. The best way to get your five-a-day is by eating the right foods. For people who still don’t get enough fruits and veggies, Fernstrom recommends supplementation.

Fruits and veggies contain disease-fighting compounds, called phytochemicals. Researchers have identified more than 900 different phytochemicals in food. More than 100 of them may be present in a single serving of vegetables. Some common cancer-fighting phytochemicals include lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit), anthocyanin (blueberries, blackberries, cherries, kiwi, plums and eggplant) and resveratrol (red grapes and wine). Researchers aren’t entirely sure how these phytochemicals protect against cancer. Some theories include the ability to repair DNA and prevent cell mutations, reduction of inflammation, antioxidant repair of tissues, promotion of cancer cell death and regulation of hormones.
Food for thought, think about making lifestyle changes to head towards a diet of more fruits and veggies, and look in to Juice Plus as a great whole food that bridges the gap between what you should eat and what you actually do eat.