First, let me ask you a question: How many servings of fruits and vegetables to you get a day? Are you religiously consuming at least five servings every day? Are you aware that five servings is a minimum?
It’s disturbing to think that only 14% of American adults get at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are even worse for teenagers: On average, only 9.5 percent of high school students report eating those all-important five a day.
Tons of research confirms that people who eat the most veggies and fruits a day on a consistent basis live the longest, are thinnest, have the fewest chronic diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
Here are a few things to consider:
- The World Health Organization says that 85% of cancers are avoidable and half of those are directly related to nutritional deficiencies in the Standard American Diet (SAD).
- One American dies of heart disease every 40 seconds. More than 2,000 of us die of heart disease every day. Cambridge University research shows that number could be cut by 20% by just eating one apple a day. You’ve heard that adage, “An apple a day….?” It’s true.
- Foods high in Vitamin C—citrus fruits, berries and bell peppers, for example—strengthen your immune system. People with high vitamin C intakes from food have 34% fewer sick days than those who don’t get their nutritional vitamins.
- Fiber: Fiber is king and fruits and vegetables are a great a way to get lots of fiber that has been shown to prevent several types of cancer (including nearly all gastrointestinal cancers) and obesity. All fruits and veggies have fiber, but some, like cabbage, kale, carrots and dried beans are especially good sources.
- Just one teensy serving of green veggies a day can slow the progress on Alzheimer’s disease, according to a just-released study from Rush and Tufts Universities. I’m not sure if there are studies confirming this, but it stands to reason that eating five or more servings a day might prevent Alzheimer’s altogether.
There are loads more studies, but you get the idea.
So how to get those all-important fruits and veggies painlessly? Drink them!
I’ve got it down to a science. It takes about 7 minutes to put together a smoothie for myself and my husband every morning. Each portion contains at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, sometimes more.
Here’s the simple basic recipe for two:
2 T coconut oil (for brain health)
½ cup homemade Greek yogurt
I T green powder
1 cup kale
½ bell pepper—preferably red
1/2 cup of carrots
juice of one lemon
four small oranges or two large ones
1 cup of blueberries
PLUS anything else that’s left around—
Leftover broccoli from last night
Half an avocado
A lonely pear or banana that will go bad in another day
A bit of fresh ginger or a handful of cilantro
Add about a cup of water so it won’t be too thick. Adjust to your taste.
Add ice if you prefer it cold. Frozen fruits and veggies are fine.
Buzz ‘em all up in a good blender and preferably drink it all within 15 minutes for optimal nutritional value. I recently received one of those Ninja jobbies that does an excellent job of completely pulverizing everything.
I use organic products as much as possible. I know they are somewhat more expensive, but I am an Aldi addict, too, and get most of these in organic form for about the same price as non-organic in regular supermarkets, sometimes even much cheaper. Going to Aldi is worth the half-hour drive for me.
You get the idea. It’s simple, it’s actually delicious and I, for one, can feel the energy rush almost immediately after I drink my morning smoothie. Plus it stays with me for hours, preventing those late-morning cravings. My body craves those smoothies and on the rare day I miss my smoothie, I really miss it.
Then whatever I eat for the rest of the day–usually two or three more servings of veggies—is a bonus for my health.