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Most Americans Skip Fruits and Vegetables

October 02, 2010 | 34,804 views
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fruits and vegetablesConsumption of fruits and vegetables has increased significantly in only one U.S. state during the past decade. And all 50 states continue to fall short of recommended daily intake.

Idaho alone had a significant increase in the proportion of residents who consumed fruits and vegetables, but even in that case, the absolute increases were small. And 10 states had small but statistically significant decreases.

ABC News reports:

“Overall, about a third of American adults ate at least two servings of vegetables daily during 2009, and about a fourth consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily.”

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Only about 26 percent of U.S. adults are eating three or more servings of vegetables a day. If you are in the majority who is not, you are missing out on major benefits, as consuming fresh vegetables is one of the key cornerstones to optimal health.

Although I have previously written that I am firmly convinced that not everyone should be a vegetarian, I do firmly believe that we all need to eat fresh high-quality vegetables every day to achieve high-level health. Some of us need far more than others.

There is little that compares to the nutritional value of organic, raw vegetables. Notice I have not yet mentioned fruits, as I believe most fruits are less important and actually better off avoided by many people. Certain low-fructose fruits like berries, which are also high in antioxidants, are one of the exceptions.

But when it comes to veggies, adding more to your diet is a simple yet powerful health strategy.

More Reasons to Eat Your Veggies

Your mom told you to “eat your vegetables,” and in this case her advice was correct. Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that you simply can’t get anywhere else.

Plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens while others regulate the rate at which cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.

And study after study shows that people with higher vegetable and fruit intakes have:

  • Lower risks of stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease
  • Lower risks of certain types of cancer, eye diseases and digestive problems
  • Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss
  • Higher scores on cognitive tests
  • Higher antioxidant levels
  • Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress

Further, if you eat your veggies raw, you’ll also be receiving biophotons, the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in, and used by all biological organisms -- including your body.

Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons. They contain important bio-information, which controls complex vital processes in your body. The biophotons have the power to order and regulate, and, in doing so, to elevate the organism -- in this case, your physical body -- to a higher oscillation or order.

The more sunlight a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is. Naturally grown fresh vegetables and sun-ripened fruits are rich in light energy.

Why Fruits are Less Important than Veggies

Eating an apple or pear is certainly a healthier choice than a candy bar, but it is not a replacement for vegetables, nor is it always a particularly healthful choice.

This is because fruits are a source of fructose, a type of sugar that can be detrimental to your health. If you are healthy you can likely eat some fruit with no issues at all, as whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose.

But if you have insulin resistance, and three-quarters of the U.S. population does, you need to limit your consumption of fruit.

How do you know if you have insulin resistance? If you have any of the following conditions it is a safe bet you have it:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight
  • High Cholesterol
  • Cancer

If you have insulin resistance it is strongly recommended that you limit your total grams of fructose from fruit to below 15 grams per day (see the table below).

If you find this an unusual recommendation I would encourage you to read the detailed explanation in a previous article I wrote on this topic.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice
(3.5" x .75")
4.0
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3

The Quality of Your Veggies is Also Important

If you are coming from a diet with few to no fruits and vegetables, then increasing your intake of virtually any fresh food will be beneficial. But once you are on the right track, it’s time to get serious about which veggies will be the healthiest.

Vegetables, in particular, begin to lose their nutritional value shortly after harvesting. If you have to choose between frozen or canned vegetables, frozen is better, but still cannot compare to fresh.

Ideally, look for fresh, non-GMO produce that is organically grown on a local farm in your area. Choose the vegetables that appear freshest first, and consume them raw shortly after purchase for optimal benefits.

But remember, if you can't obtain organics, any vegetable is better than no vegetable! Just take extra care with non-organic vegetables by washing them thoroughly and removing peels and cores when possible to minimize your exposure to pesticides.

You can view my previous articles that detail which vegetables and fruits are more crucial to purchase organically and which ones are relatively safe to purchase conventionally for more details.

The Type of Veggies You Eat Matters Too

You can easily optimize the benefits from your dietary choices by determining your nutritional type, and selecting fruits and vegetables that are best suited for your unique biochemistry.

According to nutritional typing principles, if you are a carb type, vegetable juicing is highly recommended. Juicing is also beneficial for mixed types, whereas protein types need to follow some specific guidelines to make it work for them.

If you are a protein type, juicing needs to be done cautiously. The only vegetables that should be juiced are your prime protein-type vegetables that are lower in potassium:

  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • String beans
  • Cauliflower (including the base)

Regular lettuces and typically wonderful vegetables like collard greens, kale and Swiss chard are far too high in potassium for protein types and will tend to cause biochemical imbalances. Also, to make drinking vegetable juice compatible with protein type metabolism (which needs high amounts of fat), it is important to blend a source of raw fat, such as raw eggs, avocado or raw cream, into your juice.

Again, if you’re new to a healthy lifestyle this may seem overwhelming, so you can start with my nutrition plan for some basic tips to get started.

For instance, remember this important principle: vegetables are generally good, but not all vegetables are created equal. For example, increasing your vegetable intake with salads is a good start, but I would advise avoiding iceberg lettuce.

Why?

Because it has minimal nutritional value. Red and green leaf lettuce, along with romaine lettuce and spinach, are much more nutritious options.

My Recommended Vegetables List provides a guide to the most nutritious vegetables, and those to limit due to their high carbohydrate content. Typically, the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be.

Want a Simple Way to Increase Your Veggies?

With a bit of planning, it’s relatively easy to get plenty of fresh vegetables into your diet. You can snack on celery filled with raw almond butter, nibble on asparagus, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes or red peppers, and add leafy greens like spinach to just about any meal of the day.

Other vegetables, like zucchini and turnips, are mild tasting and can be blended into soups and sauces and you’ll never even know they’re there.

That said, one of the absolute easiest and most efficient ways to optimize your vegetable intake is to juice your vegetables.

Not only will juicing help your body absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables by making them easily digestible, but you’re also avoiding the risk of damaging any of their sensitive micronutrients through cooking. Cooking and processing food destroys micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition.

It also allows you greater freedom to add a wider variety of vegetables to your diet that you may not normally enjoy eating whole. This way, you’re working with the principle of regular food rotation, which will lessen your chances of developing food allergies.

For more in-depth guidelines and information about juicing, I recommend you review the juicing section of my nutrition plan and also learn your nutritional type.

But whatever method you choose, juiced or whole, raw or cooked, please make it a point to eat your veggies. This is one food group that is incredibly diverse, so there’s a wide variety to choose from and plenty to suit virtually everyone’s tastes.


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