Fruits and Veggies Matter

No matter what your health concerns-preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, whatever-the bottom-line message from every health organization (including the American Heart Association; the American Cancer Society; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the US DA) is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Yet, more than 90 percent of Americans fail to consume the recommended amount.

Ideally, you should include a hefty portion of fruit or veggies in every meal and snack. Here are some tips to help you boost your intake of these carbohydrate-rich foods that not only fuel your muscles but also protect your good health:

  • Whip together a fruit smoothie for breakfast: orange juice, banana, frozen berries.
  • To your egg (white) omelet, add diced peppers, tomato, mushrooms.
  • Add blueberries or sliced banana to pancakes; top with applesauce.
  • No fresh fruit for your cereal? Use canned peaches, raisins, or frozen berries.
  • Put leftover dinner veggies into your lunchtime salad or soup.
  • Keep within easy reach grab-and-go snacks, such as small boxes of raisins, trail mix with dried fruit, frozen 100 percent fruit juice bars, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, and celery sticks.
  • Add shredded carrots to casseroles, chili, lasagna, meatloaf, or soup.

For additional tips and recipes using fruits and vegetables, see the recipes in part IV and the Recipes section in appendix A.

By combining the best food choices from the food guide pyramid with a regular exercise program, you can invest in your future well-being. Although genetics do play a strong role in heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and osteoporosis, you can help put the odds in your favor by eating wisely. As Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine."

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