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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Best Diet Ever: Listen to your mom. Eat your fruits and vegetables.


Photo by marmalade mel

Mom was right. Not only do you need vegetables and fruits for the nutrients they contain, but most are low calorie, high fiber, and have a high water content. That means they have a low calorie density and are filling. Besides, it's really tough to over eat fruits and vegetables. You don't have to search very long to find someone who claims that too much fruit is bad because of a high sugar content. The theory is that the sugar in fruits, causes blood levels of insulin to increase triggering fat storage. Well, most fruits also are high in fiber which slows the digestion process down and mutes the body's insulin response. Seriously, how many people out there have gotten fat by eating too many apples? I've yet to meet one.

According to the USDA, you need to eat 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Most people don't eat half of that amount. Don't be one of those people...it will make you sick, weak, and the rest of us will point and laugh. Beware of high calorie vegetables like avocados, though, and honestly, I can't think of any others that you need to limit. If there are other obvious high calorie fruits and vegetables, I'm sure that someone out there will let me know.

For the greatest health benefits, try to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. The chemical compounds that make fruits and vegetables colorful are called phytochemicals and act as antioxidants in the body. A greater variety of colors equals a greater variety of antioxidant benefits. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh vegetables, but be careful when buying canned vegetables. Canned vegetables tend to leach out water soluble vitamins while sitting on the shelf. If you pour out the water, you are losing a lot of nutritional value. Also, people with hypertension, or high blood pressure, should know that many canned vegetables contain high levels of sodium. Stick with frozen or fresh and you will be better off.

Do you get 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? If not, what are your reasons for not eating more?

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The Lethological Reader said...

Great advice! Though one point - avocados are high in calories and fat, but having them as a standard part of your diet can (along with nuts and olive oil) help to raise your good cholesterol. Of course, that doesn't mean going overboard, but having them in moderation (a portion of an avocado) can have health benefits.

Fit Club Scott said...

I agree completely. I love avocados and eat them regularly, but portion control is key for a food so calorie dense.