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Ways to Include More Fresh Produce in Your Diet – Part II

Jan 23rd 2024

Ways to Include More Fresh Produce in Your Diet – Part II

Colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables do more than delight the eye and decorate our plates. They keep us feeling light and energized. Numerous studies have shown that they protect our bodies from all kinds of disease by maintaining systemic alkalinity, reducing inflammation, supporting detoxification, providing needed fiber and strengthening immunity.

However, the main problem in our busy lives is finding ways to get enough of them. For good health, 1½ to 2 cups of fruit a day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables are recommended. If you want maximum benefits, aim for two pieces of fruit and 5 cups of vegetables.

Since including more fruit isn't as difficult as getting more vegetables, last week we gave you some ideas on how to include more vegetables in your life - like making them the centerpiece rather than a side-dish in your meals; becoming inspired by the superior taste of fresh and organic vegetables; becoming more imaginative in creating salads; and making your own vegetable snack chips.

This week, we offer a few more ideas along with some caveats. Yes, even though excessive vegetable consumption is the last issue most Americans need to worry about, for those of us who are zealous about our health, it's possible to overdo it on some vegetables!

Vegetable Juices and Smoothies

Whether to supplement or replace a meal, drinking a smoothie or juice is often the most accessible way to get in enough fruits and vegetables. Further consider adding meal replacement powder to incorporate additional nutrients.

With the right equipment, whipping up healthy snacks and even meals is a cinch. While we don't have a particular recommendation for juicing, we like the Vitamix blender. Here's a favorite juice recipe called "I Am Healthy" from Terces Engelhart's I Am Grateful. This energy drink recipe uses a wide selection of greens with a dash of citrus and mint. It's amazing how the addition of lemon and grapefruit flavors perks up a green drink!

"I Am Healthy" - An All-Green Energy Drink

  • 8 ounces cucumber juice
  • 5 ounces celery juice
  • 3 ounces kale juice
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Minty Mock Malt
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 lime
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint leaves

Two Caveats Surrounding Cruciferous Vegetables

You've probably been hearing about how healthy the cruciferous vegetables are. Here is a complete list of this rather large group, which has gained quite a reputation for cancer fighting and containing Nrf2 stimulators. Many of them, like kale, arugula, collards and chard, are excellent for making green smoothies.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Thyroid Health

Unfortunately, cruciferous vegetables have components that interfere with thyroid function if you get too much of them. The question is, how much is too much? And the answer is really unknown since many factors are involved. The problem has been observed in animals and some people who made one type of cruciferous vegetable the mainstay of their diet. A recent clinical trial done with broccoli sprouts, which are particularly high in the troublesome components, found they had no effect on thyroid parameters over 12 weeks of consumption, and no human clinical study to date has found a concern.

Still, this area has not been well-studied, and it's best not to do any one thing to excess. Eating a wide variety of vegetables is the best policy. Juicing especially concentrates both nutrients and any problematic components in vegetables.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Kidney Health

Spinach is not a cruciferous vegetable. However, it contains a problematic component - oxalic acid. Again, if you're not eating a huge spinach salad every day, it's not going to be a concern. But oxalic can interfere with absorbing many minerals and can also lead to getting kidney stones and other crystal formations in the body. So again, moderation and variety are the keys.

Here's a tip for green smoothies that's free of both anti-thyroid components and oxalic acid, and a money saver to boot. At most farmers' markets, carrot tops and fennel tops are removed and thrown into a bin for compositing later. Both of these are great additions to green smoothies, and the farmers are generally happy to let you have them for free!

Grow Sprouts in Your Kitchen

While a backyard vegetable garden is ideal, many of us don't have this luxury. But anyone can grow sprouts in their own kitchen. Not just raw food but living food, sprouts are one of the healthiest things you can eat on the planet.

To get any equipment you might need and an exotic array of seeds, beans and nuts for sprouting, and for anything else you might want to know about sprouts, see the Sprout People. If you're concerned about food poisoning issues, don't be, as long as you get your sprouts and/or seeds from trusted, organic sources.

So, here's to including more and more vitality-enhancing fruits and vegetables in your diet, and to moving closer to optimal health!

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Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.