My Personal Strategies for Consuming 7 or More Servings of Fruits and Veggies Each Day

  1. I always include 1 cup (that’s 2 servings) of fruit at breakfast. Most often, frozen berries or frozen berries with banana, kiwi, pear, or apple.
  2. I always include 1 ½ cups of veggies at lunch (that’s about 2 – 2 ½ servings). I most often have a combination of leftover dinner veggies and a fresh made salad of some fruitsort.
  3. I always include a piece of fresh fruit as my single mid-afternoon snack. Most often fresh citrus, apples, or pears.
  4. I always include 1 ½ cups of veggies at dinner. Most often a combination of cooked veggies along with a fresh tossed salad.

Here are some additional strategies I rely on to eat an abundance of vegetables.fruit-and-vegetables

      • I grow some of my own vegetables. I have four raised beds in my yard in the city and a large garden at my weekend cabin in the country.
      • If a recipe calls for veggies, I add at least double.
      • If a recipe doesn’t call for veggies – I figure out a way to put them in anyway.
      • If I make tuna or salmon salad, I add lots of lightly cooked (tender-crisp), fresh chopped broccoli (2 parts broccoli to 1 part tuna/salmon). I eat salmon/broccoli salad 2-3 times a week for lunch.
      • I buy large bags of organic carrots, cut-up and rinsed broccoli florets, sweet bell peppers, fresh asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and at least 2 varieties of onions regularly from Costco. These are veggie staples in my fridge at all times.
      • I keep several bags of frozen organic chopped spinach and frozen baby peas in my freezer at all times.
      • I visit my local farmers market weekly when operational to pick up local produce that I do not grow in my own garden.
      • I begin most any savory dish by sautéing an entire onion. Onions enhance the flavor of any savory dish.
      • I add fresh and or dried herbs liberally to my dishes.

Superstar Food: Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke hearts may be the most underappreciated and underutilized of all the superstar foods. For just 60 calories per serving you get a  mighty kick of vitamin C, folate, and fiber along with a full cadre of minerals. But what really makes this special vegetable shine so brilliantly is its remarkable antioxidant power. Even right from the can or jar, artichoke hearts beat out all other fruits and veggies in terms of antioxidant power- except currants. Throw them on your salads or include them as a quick and easy veggie snack.

Here are two of my favorite recipes that include artichoke hearts.artichoke hearts

MEDITERRANEAN DIET SCORES BIG FOR DIABETES PROTECTION

 

If you are concerned with type 2 diabetes, you will be pleased to hear that the scrumptious Mediterranean-style eating pattern has been shown to provide significant protection from this modern day epidemic. In a powerful new review that combined 19 former studies including over 162,000 people from several different countries and ethnic backgrounds, a Mediterranean diet was found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent. For folks at high risk for heart disease, there was an even stronger benefit with a 27% lower risk of diabetes.

A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil while low in red meat, refined starches, and sugar. Worldwide, type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing epidemic with rates doubling over the past 30 years. Science supports that upwards of 90 percent of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through diet and lifestyle. In some cases, it can even be fully reversed. Click here to see how. (American College of Cardiology Annual Meeting, March 2014, Washington DC)

The Eyes Have It

eyeAs the wife of an ophthalmologist, I have a special appreciation for the value of good eyesight, and a new study suggests that lifestyle factors under our direct control may help protect our vision. For this evaluation, researchers tracked vision and lifestyle factors in nearly 5,000 US adults over a 20-year period. Study subjects who reported engaging in regular exercise, defined as three or more times per week, were 58 percent less likely to develop visual impairment vs. those who were inactive. Additionally, study subjects who reported occasional alcohol use, defined as less than one serving a week, were 49 percent less likely to develop vision problems vs. nondrinkers. Heavy drinkers on the other hand were more likely to develop vision problems, as were smokers.  (1)

Diet has also been shown to significantly impact visual health. For the lowdown on the best eating strategies for eye health click here.

Eat Your Way to Less Stress

The level of stress you feel and how your body responds to it is profoundly influenced by what’s going on in your brain.  Here are 10 cardinal eating rules for boosting your peace of mind while reducing your stress and optimizing your brain power.  The Happiness Diet.

 

Barbeque Lovers Beware

grilling A study from the University of South Carolina (Epidemiology, May ’07) reported that post-menopausal women who had the highest lifetime consumption (defined as more than once a week) of grilled, barbequed or smoked red meat, had a 47 percent increased risk of breast cancer.  Those who combined this habit with a paucity of fruit and veggies had a 74% increased risk.  There are 2 classes of known carcinogens that can develop in red meat prepared this way – polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) and heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) so this is not surprising.  My message for all whether male or female, is to limit consumption of red meat, especially processed and grilled/fried versions to 2 servings or less a week.

For more on cancer prevention please visit www.preventcancer.org

7 Reasons to Include More Vegetable-Based Proteins in Your Diet

Substituting some of your animal-based proteins with vegetable-based proteins is a wise thing to do. By making this swap, you can enjoy your protein along with:

  1. A much smaller carbon footprint
  2. Phytochemicals
  3. Zero cholesterol
  4. Negligible to zero saturated fats
  5. Beneficial fiber
  6. A higher nutrient density
  7. Less caloriesbeans 1

The best plant-based sources of protein include: beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and whole soy foods.

SUPERSTAR FOOD: ASPARAGUS

Spring has sprung and so have those delectable asparagus spears. Like other green vegetables, asparagus are chock full of nutrients, providing 20 different vitamins and minerals including a huge dose of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A. This terrific trio makes them particularly valuable for heart health, healthy pregnancy, and keeping the immune system in good working order.

Here are two of my favorite recipes to boost your health with asparagus.

Omega 3 Fats Benefit Blood Pressure

salmon dinnerIn an uplifting new report that adds to the well-deserved and glowing reputation of omega- 3 fats for heart health, scientists determined that increasing our intake of these precious and vital fats helps lower blood pressure. The analysis combined the data from 70 formally published clinical trials and found that study subjects who increased their intakes of the long-chained omega 3 fats (DHA and EPA), with either foods or supplements, reduced their blood pressure on par, or even better, than other blood pressure-lowering lifestyle changes.  Notably, study subjects with uncontrolled high blood pressure received the greatest benefits.

To take full advantage of these heart-healthy fats, strive to consume at least 3 servings of oily fish (wild salmon the best) weekly.  If this is not possible for you, consider taking a high quality fish oil supplement. I prefer the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega brand (always check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements).

 

American Journal of Hypertension, online, March 2014.

 

Animal Protein May Boost Cancer Risk on Par with Smoking

steakIf you are middle-age and love your meat, cheese, and dairy and eat it too, you may be dramatically boosting your risk of premature death, particularly from cancer.  In this eye-opening new report, middle-age study subjects consuming the most animal proteins were four times more likely to die of cancer than study subjects consuming a low-protein diet. In fact, the boost in cancer risk associated with eating lots of animal protein was on par with being a regular smoker! The study included over 6,000 ethnically diverse US adults over the age of 50 whose diets were monitored for nearly 20 years.  In addition to a much greater risk of cancer death, animal protein lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause vs. those who ate less animal protein or those who got their protein mostly from plant-based sources.  In fact, those whose diets were heavy in plant-based proteins, while being low in animal-based proteins, experienced no excess risk of cancer or early death.

However, for study subjects over the age of 65, a completely different picture emerged.  Elderly study subjects consuming the highest protein diets, including those eating lots of animal based-proteins were more than 25% less likely to die. These findings are not surprising given that it takes significantly more dietary protein during old-age to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and maintain optimal muscle mass.  Sarcopenia—the loss of muscle mass associated with aging, is a major driver of disability and subsequent mortality and death in the elderly.

Although this type of study cannot provide definitive conclusions, it is in keeping with my current guidance for how to do your protein right. Click here to learn more.

Cell Metabolism, 2014: 19 (3)