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Posts Tagged ‘ Vegetables ’

5 tips for building a healthy salad

Below is my blog for Huffington Post “5 tips for building a healthy salad.”

You can also read it HERE.

As a nutritionist, I am a huge fan of salads. After all, colorful veggies are great — chock full of nutrients without too many calories. However, just because you order a salad when you go out, (while thinking you are being virtuous), does not necessarily mean that it is good for your waistline. The mantra “I’ll just have a salad” can be a dieter’s dream or a diet disaster depending on what goes into that salad.

For example, the chicken Caesar salad at The Cheesecake Factory contains a whopping 1,510 calories. That is the number of calories that certain people should eat in an entire day. It contains globs of dressings, croutons, and more. And the Quesadilla Explosion Salad at Chili’s contains 1,430 calories. Many sandwiches contain far fewer calories. Who would have guessed?

So next time you order a salad, get a custom blend if possible, and follow these tips. You’ll save lots of calories while getting plenty of nutrients.

1. Choose an assortment of deep greens.

Romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach are great choices, high in fiber, folate, and vitamin C. Skip the iceberg lettuce, which is mostly water, and not nearly as many nutrients as the deeper greens.

2. Add a mix of colorful non-starchy vegetables.

Adding an assortment of colorful vegetables are your best option, as the different colors impart different nutrients. Throw in some orange veggies such as carrots which are rich in contain beta carotene and add tomatoes which contain lycopene. Other great options are vitamin C-rich yellow and red peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, and mushrooms. You get the idea. It’s okay to throw in the kitchen sink, as they say.

3. Add a healthy protein.

Add grilled salmon, chicken breast, canned tuna, or sliced turkey as a healthy protein option. Aim for around 4 ounces (a little larger than your palm). Tofu or tempeh makes for a great vegan option. Protein is filling and also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Skip the fried chicken, fried fish, and fatty deli meats such as pastrami. And go easy on the cheese.

4. Toss in your favorite beans or legumes.

If you have the urge, toss in some beans or legumes for flavor and added fiber. Chick peas, black beans, kidney beans or lentils are great options. Aim for around 1/2 cup (looks like a cupped hand.) Beans and legumes will add more substance to the salad along with fiber and nutrients. And they will certainly keep you full. But best to skip the re-fried beans.

5. Go easy on the dressing.

Salad dressing is high in calories and fat, and we usually get way too much dressing when we order a salad straight off the menu without specifying “light on dressing” or “on the side.” It is common for a restaurant salad to contain at least a quarter of cup, or 4 tablespoons of dressing. I suggest asking for dressing on the side, and then you can control how much you add. It’s also important to watch your portion when you are home, as a mere tablespoon of oil (while containing heart-healthy fat) contains over 100 calories. When choosing a dressing, best to aim for non-creamy dressings such as balsamic vinaigrette, Italian, or use olive oil and vinegar along with your favorite spices. Skip the ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese. When eating at home, try making your own dressing with olive oil, mustard, vinegar, and fresh lemon. Or choose a low-cal dressing. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons (or a shot glass worth) of dressing.

We would love to hear your favorite salad tips and recipes.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Fruits and vegetables to enjoy during National Nutrition Month

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “7 Fruits and Vegetables to Enjoy for National Nutrition Month.” You can also read it HERE.

This month March, is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the taste of eating right.” While of course, it is important to eat foods that are nutritious, taste is a key reason why people choose to eat what they do. Pairing good nutrition with great taste creates a win-win situation. National Nutrition Month, created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is a nutrition education campaign which focuses on the importance of making good food choices.

One way to “enjoy the taste of eating right” is to include a colorful diet. In particular, when choosing fruits and vegetables, I always suggest to clients that they choose a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables as different antioxidants exist in the different color spectrums. The deep orange color found in cantaloupe and sweet potatoes contains beta carotene. The dark blue color of blueberries contains polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes and watermelon contains the antioxidant lycopene.

Below (in alphabetical order) are several nutrition powerhouses, of varying colors and nutrients that I love to include in my diet and recommend to clients.

1. Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which may contribute to heart health. They are also high in vitamin E, a fat soluble antioxidant. Not only is this green fruit (yes, it is a fruit) good for the heart, it tastes great. Sprinkle a half of avocado with some lemon and olive oil and add it to your favorite salad.

2. Beets contain healthy doses of iron, the B-vitamin folate, and fiber. Red beets offer betacyanin, a plant pigment which may protect against colon cancer. Beets add color and taste to a green salad.

3. Blueberries are one of the healthiest foods around, and have been shown to contribute to health. These tasty blue gems are full of fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin C, and the mineral manganese. Blueberries contain a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can contribute to a reduction of chronic diseases. Blueberries contain only 80 calories per cup and make a tasty topping to yogurt or cereal, and also taste great plain as a snack.

4. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family rich in phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. Broccoli is chock full of vitamin C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It also contains sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that may fight cancer and other chronic diseases. Sauteed broccoli makes a great side dish paired with grilled salmon or chicken.

5. Cantaloupe is high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, a plant-based vitamin A precursor that helps with eye health, among other conditions. It also contains potassium, a mineral which may help lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke. And, it is a great choice if you are watching your weight — a one-cup serving contains a mere 50 calories. Cantaloupe mixed with other melons such as watermelon and honeydew makes for a tasty fruit salad after dinner.

6. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, and also part of the Brassica family. It may be white in color but don’t let that fool you. It is a super nutritious veggie. One cup contains under 30 calories!, and is super high in vitamin C and fiber. It also contains vitamin K and folate. Roasted cauliflower tastes delicious.

7. Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A, K, C and the B-vitamin folate. Spinach also contains phytochemicals that may boost your immune system and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may be preventative against certain cancers. Spinach makes a great veggie side dish and tastes great sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

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Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014.”

You can also read it HERE.

It’s that time of year — a new year and a new beginning. As a nutritionist, I often hear from new clients that they make New Year’s resolutions early January and by Valentine’s Day, they are discouraged and back to their same old patterns. Resolutions such as, “I have to lose weight” or, “I want to eat healthier” tend to be too broad, and therefore do not generally work. What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a lot better.

Here are some smart-and simple food swaps that you can actually implement and incorporate into your everyday routine to help you lead a healthier life.

1. Choose whole fruit instead of juice.

Juice tends to be high in sugar and low in fiber. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, contains more fiber than the juice and has a higher water content, both which are excellent for weight loss. Eating an orange instead of guzzling down a pint of orange juice can save you over 150 calories. Imagine how many calories you can save if you make this switch daily.

2. Start your day with a low fat Greek yogurt instead of a doughnut.

Greek yogurt is an excellent breakfast as it is high in protein, which can keep you full longer. Top your yogurt with fresh fruit and a handful of walnuts to round out your breakfast. A doughnut, on the other hand, is full of calories without much nutrition.

3. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.

Grains and starches are not taboo and do not need to be avoided to be healthier and lose some weight in the process. The trick is to eat the right kind of grains. Whole grains are the best choice as they are chock full of nutrients and fiber. Include brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal instead of white bread, white rice, and white pasta.

4. Drink water and seltzer instead of soda.

Soda contains pure sugar, is liquid candy, and a waste of calories. Why not eat your calories instead of drink them? Swapping soda for water or seltzer can save you hundreds of calories. For flavor, add a splash of lemon, orange, or cucumber or throw in a few fruity ice cubes (pour your favorite juice into an ice cube tray and freeze for flavored ice cubes).

5. Eat an English muffin (whole grain, of course) instead of a bagel.

Making this swap can save you over 200 calories. While both a bagel and an English muffin are just one item, a bagel is equivalent to approximately five bread slices whereas an English muffin is more like two bread slices. Save the bagel as an occasional treat.

6. Start your meal with a vegetable salad (dressing on side) instead of a fried appetizer.

Starting your meal with a fresh salad is a great way to include vegetables into your diet. Salad and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, full of fiber, and low in calories.

7. Choose a low-fat tomato-based soup instead of a cream-based soup.

I am a soup lover. I enjoy eating soup in the cold winters in NY and also in the summer. Soups make a great snack, a healthy appetizer, and even a great meal. The key is to eat a vegetable based soup and to skip the cream. Great choices include 10 vegetable soup, minestrone soup, and white bean and escarole soup.

8. Eat an apple or a pear as a snack instead of a bag of chips.

When you feel the urge to nibble, go for a healthy piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips.

9. Choose salmon instead of steak.

I advise limiting read meat and choosing fish instead. Grilled salmon, for example, is high in protein, much lower in saturated fat than red meat, and full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Finish your meal with a cup of blueberries instead of a slice of blueberry pie.

Berries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients and low in calories. If you want to indulge in an occasional slice of pie, make it a sliver, and surround it with a cup of fresh fruit.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!

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Delicious–and nutritious–Fall produce to eat this season

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post: Delicious–and nutritious–Fall produce to eat this season.

You can also read it HERE.

Along with the changing colors of the leaves and the fall season upon us, comes delicious produce packed with nutrients. Choosing a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables is best, as different nutrients exist along the different color spectrum. The orange pigment found in fall produce such as butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, for instance, contain the antioxidant beta carotene known to promote eye health. And, the red pigment found in pink grapefruit contains the antioxidant lycopene linked with prostate health.

Here are some nutritious winners that also taste great.

SWEET POTATOES

Sweet Potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and are also full of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C and the mineral potassium. They are especially nutritious when eaten with the skin on and contrary to a popular dieting myth, they are not fattening! They are delicious baked whole in the oven or roasted with a drizzle of olive oil.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Brussel sprouts are little cabbages and a member of the brassica family. They are known to be rich in phytochemicals and believed to have antioxidant properties and a great anti-cancer fighter. They are delicious when roasted in the oven and sautéed with olive oil and drizzled with honey.

APPLES

Apples provide fiber along with the heart-healthy antioxidant quercitin. Best to eat with the skins and a baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins makes the perfect after dinner treat.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Butternut squash is a delicious and sweet orange vegetable rich in the antioxidants beta carotene and lutein. This yummy winter squash can be baked in the oven, roasted or pureed and made into a hearty soup. It tastes great with a sprinkling of cinnamon and ginger.

GRAPEFRUIT

Grapefruit provides a significant source of vitamin C, folate and potassium, as well as fiber. Pink grapefruits are particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Eating these fruits whole yields more nutrients than drinking the juice.

PEARS

Pears are loaded with fiber and are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Baking or poaching pears brings out its delicious flavor. Incorporate a poached pear into a salad for a delicious and nutritious twist.

PARSNIPS

Parsnips, a once overlooked root vegetable, contain a significant amount of fiber as well as vitamins such as the B vitamin folate and vitamin C, and the mineral potassium. Their sweet and nutty flavor makes them a great addition to use in soups.

KIWIFRUIT

Kiwifruit with its brilliant green inside is packed with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It makes a great addition to a fruit salad.

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Lessons from the Mediterranean diet: 10 foods to eat

Below is my latest blog post  for Huffington Post: ” What we can learn from the Mediterranean Diet: 10 healthy foods to eat.” You can also read it here.

The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan that has been thought to reduce the incidence of heart disease. Now a large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on thousands of participants in Spain confirms the health benefits of this eating plan. The study found that those following the Mediterranean diet had a 30 percent reduction in the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. The study subjects were people ages 55-80 who had a high risk for cardiovascular disease.

As reported in the New York Times, “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals.” The study was stopped early because the results were so clear-cut that they found it not ethical to continue.

The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that is high in fruits and vegetables, and includes whole grains, olive oil, fish, nuts, beans, and legumes. It is low in foods that are high in saturated fats — such as meat and butter — and is also low in processed foods. What I love about the Mediterranean diet is that it is not touted as a weight-loss diet, but rather as a healthy lifestyle plan and a way life.

I previously wrote about the benefits of eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and rich in whole grains.

So how can we Americans eat more like the Greeks? We can eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, include fish instead of meat, use olive oil instead of butter, and snack on nuts instead of chips.

My clients have been asking me which foods they can include in their diet. Here are some winners.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a heart-healthy fat. Diets high in olive oil have been associated with heart health. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, polyphenols, and beta-carotene, which protects blood vessels and other components of the heart. Drizzle olive oil on salads and steamed veggies.

Tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a decrease in the risk of heart disease risk. The American Heart Association recommends including at least two servings of fish per week, in particular fatty fish. Tuna is affordable, convenient, and versatile. Throw canned tuna on a salad, make a sandwich, or toss it into whole wheat pasta, to get a dose of omega-3s.

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables as it is chock-full of the antioxidant vitamins A and C. It is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family, rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties. Sautee broccoli in olive oil and enjoy it as a side dish.

Raspberries contain the antioxidant quercetin — which contains anti-inflammatory benefits — and the phenolic compound ellagic acid, and can help fight heart disease. And even more good news: One cup contains only 105 calories and eight grams of fiber. Throw some berries into your morning yogurt for added color, taste, and a healthy dose of antioxidants and fiber.

Walnuts not only taste great, but also provide a heart-healthy addition to your diet. Rich in the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, and antioxidants such as selenium, walnuts also provide protein, fiber, magnesium and phosphorus to the diet. Include a handful of walnuts as a snack or toss a few tablespoons into your breakfast oatmeal.

Chickpeas are a great option for plant protein and fiber. They also contain magnesium, manganese, iron, and folate. Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, is delicious with crackers or veggies as an afternoon snack.

Brown rice contains fiber, B-vitamins, and a variety of minerals. It contains nearly three times the fiber of white rice. A half-cup serving of cooked brown rice contains nearly a half-day’s worth of the mineral manganese, which works with various enzymes facilitating body processes. Brown rice makes a healthy grain to include with a meal of grilled fish and vegetables.

Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C, K, and the B-vitamin folate. Spinach also contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may prevent against certain diseases. For good news, it is available year-round, offering a readily-available source of many vitamins and minerals. A fresh spinach salad drizzled with olive oil and a handful of nuts tastes great.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and may benefit heart health. Consuming blueberries may keep your blood pressure in check. Blueberries contain anthocyanins, which may reduce the risk of heart disease in women. Snack on these tasty berries or throw a handful into your cereal.

Lentils contain soluble fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates and also offers the added benefit of being a significant source of iron. Consider beginning your lunch or dinner with a hot lentil soup.

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10 Foods to Eat for Heart Health

Below is my latest blog post on heart healthy foods for Huffington Post. You can also read it here.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S. February is American Heart Month, and a time to raise awareness about heart disease and to educate the public on ways we can live heart-healthier lives. Here are several foods to include in your diet this month in honor of American Heart Month.

1 Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber and contains beta-glucans, which help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. One half-cup serving provides about 4.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

2. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a reduction in heart disease risk. Salmon is also a natural source of healthy protein and vitamin D. One three-ounce serving — the size of a deck of cards — contains 17 grams of protein. The American Heart Association recommends including at least two servings of fish per week (particularly fatty fish).

3. Broccoli is chock-full of the antioxidant vitamins A and C. It is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family, which also includes Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, and collards. Members of the Brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties.

4. Peanuts are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat and contain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Regular consumption of peanuts has been associated with lower risk for coronary heart disease in people who eat them instead of other high-fat foods. Peanut consumption has been shown to improve lipid profiles in those with high cholesterol.

5. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E.

6. Pistachios contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber. They are also rich in plant stanols; research found that substituting these jade gems for fatty meats can actually lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

7. Cantaloupe, a member of the melon family is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, a plant-based vitamin A precursor. It is also rich in the mineral potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke. A one-cup serving contains a mere 50 calories which can certainly help with weight control.

8. Red wine, in moderation, is associated with heart health and contains a high levels of antioxidants. Polyphenols, including resveratrol, are associated with an increase in good cholesterol, a reduction in bad cholesterol, and a decrease in inflammation.

9. Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fat. Diets rich in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been associated with heart health. Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, like polyphenols, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, which can help protect blood vessels and other components of the heart.

10. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant associated with cardiovascular health. There are many different varieties of tomatoes, and they all contain important antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Tomatoes are also low in calories with one1 medium tomato has about 20 calories.

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Benefits of fruits and veggies: Eat MORE

Below is my latest blog post for Huffington Post on the benefits of fruits and veggies.

Here is the link.

According to new data published by the NPD Group, a market research firm, most American are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables. As reported in USA Today, children and adults eat an average of slightly more than a cup of vegetables a day and a little more than a half a cup of fruit.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that we eat a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. And according to USDA’s dietary guidance system MyPlate, half of our plate should consist of fruits and veggies. For a 2,000-calorie diet, it advised that we eat two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies each day.

Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables has been linked to improved health, and for good reason. Veggies and fruits (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. Choosing a colorful assortment vegetables is best, as different benefits exist in the different color spectrum. The orange pigment found in carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, for example, contain the antioxidant beta-carotene. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is linked with prostate health.

And for some great news, here are two food groups where you can eat a large portion and not have to worry about weight gain. (Just watch your portion of starchy veggies such as corn and potatoes.)

With so much of a focus on eating low-carbohydrate diets, as a practicing nutritionist, I often get asked by my clients, “Will I gain weight if I eat too many fruits such as watermelon?” The answer is NO! In fact, quite the contrary. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. And, they are good for your health.

While all fruits and vegetables are healthy, below are several pointers on some nutrition powerhouses.

Vegetables

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family, which also includes kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. Members of the Brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties. Broccoli is a true nutrition powerhouse: It is chock full of vitamin C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can fight cancer.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, which helps to maintain bowel health, lower blood cholesterol, and aid in weight maintenance. The orange pigment found in carrots are due to the antioxidant beta-carotene, also found in other deep orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, papaya, and cantaloupe. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body and helps to maintain healthy eyes, support your immune system, keep your skin healthy, and protect against certain cancers.

Spinach is available year-round in grocery stores around the country, offering a readily-available source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A, K, C, and the B-vitamin folate. Spinach also contains phytochemicals that may boost your immune system and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may be preventative against certain cancers.

Sweet Potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and are also full of fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, and the mineral potassium. They are especially nutritious when eaten with the skin on, and contrary to a popular dieting myth, they are not fattening!

Beets contain healthy doses of iron, the B-vitamin folate, and fiber. Red beets offer betacyanin, a plant pigment which may protect against colon cancer.

Fruits

Cantaloupe. This member of the melon family is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, a plant-based vitamin A precursor that helps with eye health, among other conditions. It is also rich in the mineral potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and the risk for stroke. And, it is terrific if you are watching your waist — a one-cup serving contains a mere 50 calories.

Watermelon, which is especially terrific this time of year, offers a juicy, sweet taste and a high water content, while packing in the antioxidants lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, and the minerals potassium and magnesium.

Citrus fruits, including oranges and grapefruits, provide a significant source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium, as well as fiber. Pink grapefruits are particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Eating these fruits whole yields more nutrients than drinking the juice.

Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E.

Grapes. Consuming grapes may reduce the risk of blood clots, lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and prevent damage to the heart’s blood vessels, aiding in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Antioxidants called flavonoids may even increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind). The resveratrol found in the skins of red grapes may interfere with cancer development. Eating the whole fruit instead of consuming the juice contains the added benefit of fiber.

Kiwifruit, with its brilliant green inside, is packed with vitamin C and fiber.

Healthy Tips:

It is best to eat your fruits and vegetables from whole foods. Popping a pill — such as taking a beta-carotene supplement — does not do the trick. Fresh and frozen vegetables offer a combination of many health benefits that you will not find in a pill. So, remember to chew!!

When you can, opt for local produce that’s in season. Chances are, it did not have to travel too far to get to you. Go organic when you can.

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Why eat vegetables.

Eating a diet with plenty of vegetables has been linked to improved health, and for good reason. Veggies (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. Choosing a colorful assortment vegetables is best, as different benefits exist in the different color spectrum. The orange pigment found in carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, for example, contain the antioxidant beta carotene. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene linked with prostate health.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that we eat a diet plentiful in vegetables. And for some great news, here is  food group where you can eat a large portion and not have to worry about weight gain. (just watch your portion of starchy veggies such as corn and potatoes.)

While all vegetables are healthy, below are several pointers on some nutrition powerhouses.

VEGETABLES

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family that also includes kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. Members of the brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties. Broccoli is a true nutrition powerhouse; it is chock full of vitamin C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can fight cancer.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, which helps to maintain bowel health, lower blood cholesterol, and aid in weight maintenance. The orange pigment found in carrots are due to the antioxidant, beta-carotene, also found in other deep orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, papaya, and cantaloupe. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, helps to maintain healthy eyes, support your immune system, keep your skin healthy, and protect against certain cancers.

Spinach is available year-round in grocery stores around the country, offering a readily-available, source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, and vitamins A, K, C, and the B vitamin folate.  Spinach also contains phytochemicals which may boost your immune system and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may be preventative against certain cancers.

Sweet Potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and are also full of fiber, vitamins B6, folate, and C and the mineral potassium. They are especially nutritious when eaten with the skin on, and contrary to a popular dieting myth, they are not fattening!

Beets contain healthy doses of iron, the B vitamin folate, and fiber. Red beets offer betacyanin, a plant pigment which may protect against colon cancer.

HEALTHY TIPS:

It is best to EAT your fruits and vegetables from WHOLE foods. Popping a pill–such as taking a beta carotene supplement–does not do the trick. Fresh and frozen vegetables offer a combination of many health benefits that you will not find in a pill. So, remember to chew!!

Go LOCAL and eat what’s in season. When you can, opt for local produce that’s in season. Chances are it did not have to travel too far to get to you.

Go ORGANIC when you can.

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