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Adding the right amount of vegetables to your diet can single-handedly fight strokes, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
EAT YOUR VEGETABLES. This one simple rule is the most powerful and important way to fight aging. But to get the maximum anti-aging protection and disease prevention, you need to not only eat the right number of servings per week, but also include variety, and lots of it.
Eating about 14 cups of vegetables per week, from a wide range of veggie groups, raises blood levels of many protective antioxidants. In addition to their well-documented ability to fight and reduce the risk of disease, antioxidants may help preserve your long-term memory and learning capabilities, even as you get older.
Numerous studies also link a higher veggie intake to a reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Convinced, but still struggling to work all this produce into your real-life diet? Then the following tips will help you to simplify things with a breakdown of the five essential veggie “groups,” and a cheat sheet for quick reference, and seven days of actual meals. You’ll be fulfilling your 14-cup quota in no time.
Easy ways to sneak in veggies
- Swap noodle soup for bean or lentil
- Serve chicken or fish over a bed of corn or wilted greens instead of rice
- Use salsa or marinara sauce for dipping
- Add mashed beans or chopped mushrooms to lean ground beef or turkey
- Trade half your pasta portion for chopped veggies
The ideal veggie schedule
Your goal is 14 cups a week! This may seem like a lot, but it’s easier than it sounds. Researchers have divided the entire vegetable spectrum into five “groups” (yes, beans are a veggie!) and broken down your exact weekly needs.
You need: 2 cups per week
Spinach; broccoli; romaine; mesclun; collard, turnip and mustard greens
Payoff: Better lung health, stronger bones, a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation and a healthier brain.
You need: 1 ½ cups per week
Carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin
Payoff: Better vision, blood sugar control, and lung health; high in cancer-fighting carotenoids.
You need: 2½ cups per week
Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, edamame, chickpeas, tofu
Payoff: Lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
You need: 2½ cups per week
White potatoes, corn, green peas
Payoff: The nutrients in this group range from vitamins A, C, B6, and folate to potassium and magnesium, and each vegetable is rich in unique antioxidants, such as cancer-fighting isoflavones in peas and blood pressure–lowering kukoamines in potatoes.
You need: 5½ cups per week
Artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, wax beans, zucchini
Payoff: This eclectic group ensures a broad spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants that protect every system in your body, including beta-carotene in bell peppers and quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory, in onions.
One week at a glance
|LUNCH||1 c Greens||1/2 c Orange Veggies||1 c Greens & 1/2 c Beans||1 c Wildcard||1 c Wildcard||1 c Wildcard||1/2 c beans|
|DINNER||3/4 c Starchy Veggies||1/2 c Beans||1 1/2 c Wildcard||1 c Beans||3/4 c Starchy Veggies||1 c Orange Veggies||1c Starchy Veggies & 1 c Wildcard|
Eat like this!
You will soon find that eating meals that incorporate all five vegetable groups into a perfect 7-day veggie schedule is pretty easy. When making meals just choose the group and look for its category so you can make choices. Once you get the hang of it, adding more vegetables to your meals will be a breeze.
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