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Eve Lees

Health Columnist for INSPIRED 55+ Lifestyle Magazine and the White Rock Sun

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Wednesday January 10, 2024

In 2024, eat more veggies

Plant-based. Those words should be recorded as the most popular words in 2023. And it's not surprising because ongoing research proves the many health benefits of eating more plants. If you are into making New Year resolutions, vowing to eat more “plants” could be a life-changing one.

This does not mean you have to stop eating meat. It simply means to eat more of the food sources that "grew" rather than those that "walked" (or swam). While most of us have no problem eating more fruit – likely due to its sweetness – increasing our vegetable intake is often more difficult. In 2024, you can try to boost your veggie consumption using the following suggestions.

Whenever you choose to snack on 'junk food,' like chips or snack bars, have a vegetable with it. And FYI, junk food labelled as organic, low-fat, "natural," and sugar-free is still considered junk food. Cookies, candy, taco and potato chips (yes, 'organic' sweet potato chips, too), candy bars, frozen desserts like ice cream, granola bars, and even sports bars are classified as junk food. Usually, if it was created by humans (not nature), if it has a food label with a long list of ingredients, and if it does not resemble any food in its natural form, well . . . these are good indications it's a highly processed (junk food) snack.

The snack choices mentioned above are not as nutritious as whole, unchanged foods like fresh vegetables. When a food is highly changed, many nutrients are reduced or lost to the process of 'oxidation' (exposure to heat, light, oxygen). In addition, you likely don't need more of the added sugars, fats, and preservatives.

Several vegetable choices are easy to pack and don't need to be refrigerated. You can take them to work with you or when running errands away from home for any length of time. They are also handy on a day-long road trip. These include cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, baby cucumbers, celery sticks, etc. It takes little time to pre-wash them. And it's best to leave them whole instead of slicing them up into smaller pieces: Vegetables left in their whole form can be left unrefrigerated for longer than cut-up vegetables (however, if your road trip is longer than a day, consider packing a cooler for both whole and sliced vegetables). Your veggies will be conveniently within reach if you get hungry between meals. Have one or two with that candy bar or chips you caved in for.

There is nothing wrong with eating cooked vegetables. Overcooking them becomes a problem! Choose to lightly cook, steam, or roast them, rather than letting them sit for a long time in boiling water – or scorching them in the frying pan. Many vegetables offer nutrients that are more easily assimilated when cooked, while certain nutrients are more 'potent' when the vegetable is eaten raw. So, it's wise to alternate cooked with raw, to increase the variety of nutrients you are getting.

Challenge your taste buds by experimenting with vegetables you haven't tried before. You may be in for a pleasant surprise. And if you hated the taste of a vegetable in the past, try it again cooked if you ate it raw the last time – or try it raw if it didn't appeal to you cooked.

Keep vegetables stocked in your refrigerator, fresh, frozen, or whatever 'leftover' veggies you can reheat. Have them with (or instead of) your guilty pleasure snack.

At breakfast, choose to load your omelet with lots of vegetables. Go crazy.

Are you having friends over at teatime? Serve veggies and a healthy dip instead of the traditional cookies and cake. Vegetables are also a good choice for appetizers before dinner.

 

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics. https://www.artnews-healthnews.com/health-writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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