by Antonio Sini ….

Do you eat enough vegetables?  I’m not talking about a few pieces of cucumber and some tomatoes with your salad—I’m talking about nutritious, hearty, fiber-rich vegetables, raw if possible!

I’ve often heard clients refer to themselves as “healthy eaters” because they’ve eliminated fatty foods and simple carbs from their diet; yet they actually fall far short of the 3 to 5 servings (about 2 to 3 cups) of vegetables they should consume each day.  This leaves a major gap in one’s overall nutritional program.

Raw vegetables are nutrient dense.  They pack a lot of nutrition into a minimum of calories and contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and health-building substances, called phytonutrients.  Vegetables are also high in fiber.

Why is Fiber good for you?  Here are 4 reasons, from the University of California–San Francisco Medical Center.

  • Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream.  When you eat foods high in fiber, such as beans and whole grains, the sugar in those foods is absorbed slower, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast.  This is good for you because spikes in glucose fall rapidly, which can make you feel hungry soon after eating and lead to overeating.
  • Fiber makes your intestines move faster.  When you eat whole grains rich in insoluble fiber, it moves faster through your intestines, which can help signal that you are full.
  • Fiber cleans your colon, acting like a scrub brush.  The scrub-brush effect of fiber helps clean out bacteria and other buildup in your intestines, and reduces your risk for colon cancer.
  • Fiber helps keep you regular.  A high-fiber diet helps you have soft, regular bowel movements, reducing constipation.

It’s the things we do each day that really determine our overall health.  Regular exercise, staying hydrated and reducing stress are all keys to success.  Eating well, including getting enough vegetables in your diet, is just as important to your daily health and wellness routine.

Here are two healthy options for cooking vegetables:

Steaming

Steaming vegetables is often considered the healthiest way to cook them, as they tend to retain more vitamins and minerals then if you boil them or use a microwave.  The best vegetables for steaming include broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, leafy greens like spinach, and other relatively tender vegetables.

Grilling

Now that the weather is warmer, try grilling vegetables outside on the barbecue.  I love grilling my vegetables because it locks in flavor and caramelizes the surface, giving them a crispy sweetness.  Grilling is a terrific way to prepare corn, sweet peppers, zucchini and other squash, onions, potatoes, and a variety of other vegetables.

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