June is National Fresh Fruit and Veggies Month─a great time to consider whether or not you're including enough fresh produce on your daily menu. As you probably know, most Americans fail to do so. Here are some easy ways to add more fruits and veggies to your life, and how you’ll benefit:
Launch your day
Start your day on a healthy note with a high-quality whey protein shake─including fresh fruit! When making your shake, add fresh and/or frozen berries for a blast of delicious antioxidant protection. Apples and pears work too! Go organic, though, especially with apples, peaches, and berries, which rank among the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” for dangerous pesticide residues.
Every dinner can include a salad, even simply dressed organic greens! The more veggies you incorporate, the more health-promoting nutrients you obtain. Jazz up sandwiches with sliced apple, cucumber, tomato, and fresh or roasted peppers. When grilling, add peaches, plums and pineapple for a beautiful complement to seafood, meat and poultry. As for dessert, think dark chocolate-dipped strawberries or non-fat frozen yogurt over fresh peaches.
Along with tomatoes, incorporate marinara and pizza sauces whenever possible, as they contain rich levels of lycopene, which you absorb best when tomatoes are cooked with healthy fats like olive oil. Most varieties of salsa deliver this valuable carotenoid too, as do sun-dried tomatoes. Why not dine well and decrease risk of prostate cancer─among other forms of the disease─while you’re at it?
Healthy “fast food”
Can food be convenient and healthy too? Given the busy lives many of us lead, nutritious eating should be simple, at least until it becomes second nature. Stock-up on basics like apples, oranges, spinach, and broccoli which require little preparation. Shop your local farmer’s market for fresh, organic produce in season. Eat a rainbow, boost your wellness!
Whittle your waistline
Why is fresh produce such a great weight loss tool? Because fruits and veggies are fiber-rich and water-dense, filling you up for minimal calories. Additionally, your appestat─the area in the brain believed to regulate appetite and food intake─is satisfied more quickly when your nutrient intake is high. That beats gorging on thousands of empty calories without feeling full, due to lack of fiber and nutrients.
It’s simple really. Make fresh produce a daily “go-to,” always filling half your plate, and you’ll benefit tremendously─on many levels!