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Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Experts recommend that we get 9 servings of fruit and vegetables each day in order to stay healthy and reduce our likelihood of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. An evaluation of long-term studies conducted in Europe and the US found that those who ate more than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease than those who ate fewer than 3 servings per day.

Although fruit is very healthy (it provides lots of vitamins and fiber), it contains a lot of sugar in the form of fructose. This is why experts say that about three-fifths of those 9 servings of fruit and vegetables should be comprised of vegetables. But it’s not easy for a lot of people to get those all-important servings each day, given our increasingly busy schedules. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to get your daily veggies from drinking juice.

Just to be crystal clear on this point—it is generally better for you to eat whole vegetables either raw or very lightly cooked as often as possible. Vegetable juices are generally pretty low in fiber, depending on the juice (or juicer) you get. Fiber is important for digestive health, reducing the risk of constipation and keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level. Nevertheless, drinking vegetable juice is far better than getting little or no vegetables at all!

Juicing can be a particularly useful option for people who have digestive issues. To get the most nutritional value from your vegetables (or from any other food you eat, for that matter), your body must first break them down during digestion. Generally speaking, the simple act of chewing and swallowing our food so that it can be dissolved elsewhere along the digestive tract should be sufficient to release the nutrients in whatever we eat. However, some people (including the elderly, whose digestive enzymes may not be as powerful as they once were) have digestive problems that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Since juice has had most of the vegetables’ cellulose removed or broken down, it’s easier for the digestive system to absorb all those important nutrients.

For veggie juices with the highest nutritional content, consider juices featuring some of the following vegetables:

  • Tomatoes – Possibly the best vegetable to juice, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer and is supportive of heart health.
  • Kale – Chock full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, C and K, calcium, copper and magnesium, kale also is high in cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
  • Cabbage – Helps protect against ulcers, and its indoles help to regulate metabolism and the balance of estrogen.
  • Peppers – Red bell peppers in particular are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Adds a refreshing flavor to any vegetable juice.
  • Celery – High in potassium, celery helps to regulate blood pressure. It also reduces uric acid in the blood, which is good news for anyone with gout.
  • Spinach – High in the cancer-fighting antioxidant lutein, spinach is also high in vitamins A, C and E, and is a good source of calcium, folic acid, iron and potassium.
  • Carrots – These contain large amounts of beta carotene, good for the skin, eyes, brain and arteries. They blend well with other vegetables as well. Just be sure to use them somewhat sparingly, as they are also quite high in sugar.
  • Parsley – Cleanses the liver and kidneys and is supportive of heart health. It is also high in vitamin C.

So drink up, and enjoy the health benefits you can gain from these wonderful vegetables!

  • Special Note: Using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vitamix Blender allows you to get your juice and fiber as well! Not everyone can afford one but for those that can, it can be a wonderful investment!

 

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

fruits in supermarket

Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.

There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.

Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:

  • Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
  • Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
  • Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
  • Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
  • Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
  • Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
  • Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.

So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer! If you have questions about your diet choices, always remember that you can call either of our Billings offices and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Oblander or a member of our staff!

Fruits and Vegetables Add Years to Your Life – Literally

Fruits and Vegetables Add Years to Your Life – Literally

fruit-vegitable-face
fruit-vegetable-face

We’ve been told for years – and by pretty much everyone involved with either nutrition or health care – that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and can improve your life. Well, it turns out that these people weren’t telling us the whole story. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can actually extend your life, and add years to it.

That’s the message of a study conducted at University College London, and published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The researchers used data from the Health Survey for England to analyze the eating habits of over 65,000 people considered representative of the English population between the years 2001 and 2013. What they found was that the more fresh fruits and vegetables these people ate – at any age – the less likely they were to die.

This study is the first to compare the consumption of fruits and vegetables with rates of cancer, heart disease, and all-cause deaths in a nationally-representative population. It is also the first to link health benefits to per-portion quantities of fruits and vegetables, and the first to identify the types of fruits and vegetables with the most benefit.

The figures are compelling and consistent. Eating 1-3 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of death in the three categories (cancer, heart disease, and all causes) by 11%, 9%, and 14%, respectively, compared with eating none. Eating 3-5 servings per day decreases these risks by 19%, 18%, and 29%, respectively. Eating 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of dying from these causes by a whopping 25%, 31%, and 42%, respectively.

The researchers also found that fresh vegetables have a more significant effect on longevity and lowered mortality risk than fruits, with each daily vegetable portion added to the diet lowering mortality risk by 16%. Eating salad lowered mortality risk by 13% for each portion added daily, and fruit lowered mortality risk by 4% for each added portion.

Interestingly, the researchers found no benefits to longevity from fruit juice, as opposed to fresh, whole fruit. Furthermore, canned or frozen fruit appeared to actually increase risk of death by 17% per portion. The researchers attributed this to the fact that most canned and frozen fruits contain high sugar levels, and that  the negative health impacts of the sugar may outweigh any benefits.

Lead author of the study Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode says of the findings, “We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering. The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”

 

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