Health Benefits of Raw Fruits and Vegetables, and How You Can Easily Incorporate Them Into Your Diet
We have heard many times that a diet of whole foods can prevent a host of diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. But how many servings of fruits and vegetables per day is enough? The American Dietetic Association recommends we get at least 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruit (each serving is 1/2 cup). Most people only get less than half of this.
Cooking foods above 115 degrees fahrenheit destroys vital enzymes (enzymes are proteins that catalyze reactions-they break down nutrients so the body can use them). Raw fruits and vegetables contain high levels of enzymes so consuming them reduces the need for the body to have to produce its own. Cooking also destroys many of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants present in raw foods.
Eating raw fruits and vegetables improves digestion due to their high fiber content and the phytonutrients present in them fight disease and prevent cell damage. Another reason to include more raw produce in your diet is that it fills you up, aids in weight loss, improves energy levels, promotes healthy skin and decreases cravings.
A diet rich in raw foods helps promote dental health by increasing blood flow to the gums and jaw, since it requires more chewing.
The standard American diet is void of nutrients and full of chemicals and processed food, which cause inflammation and disease. While a diet that is rich in raw produce nourishes the body at the cellular level, protects you from free radicals and strengthens your immune system.
Lets face it many people are to busy to prepare healthy meals but with a little bit of planning achieving this doesn't have to be an overwhelming task.
10 Simple ways to add more raw to your diet:
1. Plan a weekly menu.
2. Make a shopping list ahead of time.
3. Buy an assortment of fruits and vegetables, since a colorful diet ensures you get a variety of nutrients.
4. Choose organic when possible.
5. Try a new fruit or vegetable every week.
6. Bring your children to the grocery store and encourage them to pick out some fresh produce. Children respond to change better when they are included in the process.
7. Try juicing. It's an easy way to consume lots of enzymes and disease fighting phytonutrients. You can also try adding raw fruits and vegetables to a smoothie. Bananas, fresh orange juice and spinach make great additions.
8. Have a salad every day and experiment with different flavors and textures. Try adding kale, swisschard, raw beets, parsnips, radishes, zucchini and even fruit to make it more interesting.
9. Add avocado, sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes and shaved carrots to sandwiches. Top oatmeal or whole grain cereals with berries, apples, pears and persimmons.And don't forget about dried fruit like prunes, raisins, cherries, dates and cranberries since they add antioxidants too.
10. Have raw fruits and vegetables for a snack (It's natures fast food). Apples, bananas, grapes, pears, celery, carrots, cucumber slices, broccoli florets and even asparagus spears are easy to transport and make a great pick me up mid-morning or afternoon snack. The possibilities are endless!
I'm a specialist in fitness nutrition,personal trainer,author,dietetic technician and an R.N.
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