"I'm so offended when my body decides to get sick. Like I gave you a vegetable last week. How dare you?" ~Anonymous
What are the healthiest fruits and vegetables? Answer: The one's you'll eat!
Not trying to be cute. This is simply the truth. The healthiest fruits and vegetables are the ones that any of us will eat! Why do we need them anyway? Fruits and vegetables are sources of many nutrients, including potassium, folate (folic acid), vitamins and minerals. But they also provide dietary fiber. Animal meats do not contain dietary fiber. And, a real importance of eating enough fiber--roughage is that it acts like our body's broom in the digestive system absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements. That seems like a secret because many people just aren't aware of this!
Dietary fiber is the portion of plant-derived food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes into sugar molecules. It is a type of carbohydrate that passes through the body undigested and its purpose is to regulate the body's use of sugars, keeping blood sugars balanced and hunger regulated.
People need about 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day but most children and adults in America only get about 15 grams a day.
There are two varieties of fiber:
- Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.
- Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.
When carbohydrates are combined with fiber, it slows the absorption of sugar and regulates insulin response. Fiber makes us feel full, which discourages overeating. The best sources of fiber are whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
Tips for increasing fiber intake:
Pick out some of your favorite fruits and vegetables in each of the 5-colors of fruits and vegetable and incorporate them into your meals intentionally. Here is an article that has some charts to make selections:
5- COLORS OF PHYTONUTRIENTS IN FRUITS & VEGETABLES THAT YOUR BODY CELLS CRAVE!
Here are some other useful tips to try:
- As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal.
- Eat whole fruits, e.g. an apple, banana, orange, pear, etc. instead of drinking fruit juices.
- Replace white flour, rice, bread, and pasta with whole-wheat flour, brown rice and whole grain products.
- Choose breakfast cereals that have a whole grain as their first ingredient--Read labels!
- Snack on raw vegetables between meals.
- Substitute beans or legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups.
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!