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Daily Veg

With these tips, you'll go green and never look back.

I do not want to sound like a broken record and say…eat your veggies, eat your veggies, and all that. But the fact is, the more veggies you include in your diet, the less susceptible you are to practically every major disease.

Why? Because veggies are rich in antioxidants, which are thought to prevent harm to our cells. So for great health and rejuvenation, vegetables need to be the centerpiece of our diets. And it's no secret that without cream sauces, margarine, or dips, vegetables are low in fat and calories.

Still a veggie skeptic? I hope to convert you with these strategies to help you harness their amazing nutritional power:

  • Set a goal for the number of veggie servings you will eat daily. Start gradually at the lower range of two servings a day, or try to eat at least one fresh vegetable a day.

  • Go green. The greener the leaf, or the veggie, the more anti-aging compounds it contains. So aim to enjoy one mixed salad a day.

  • Color your plate. Colorful veggies are proven fighters of aging, cancer, and heart disease, because they contain a boatload of nutrients. Try to include several servings of yellow, red, orange, and purple vegetables in your meals each week.

  • Drink your veggies. Juicing is the easiest way to "eat your veggies." As I do, try to have at least one tall glass of fresh juice daily. If you do not have a juicer, stock organic vegetable juices, and mix them up.

  • Do not fear starchy vegetables. Instead, charge-up your batteries with healthy carbs. Include the following in your weekly diet: corn, potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, and yams.

  • Season your foods with chopped garlic or onion. They may make your breath lousy for awhile, but these foods are packed with flavor and health-building, disease-fighting phytochemicals.

  • Try a new vegetable every week. Step out of your comfort zone, try a new veggie, and experiment with how to cook it. Did you know, for example, that you can substitute spaghetti squash or julienned zucchini for pasta and never know the difference?

  • Set a veggie goal. You might, for example, aim to include at least two vegetables with lunch and dinner. Then step it up: Double your portion of vegetables at lunch or dinner.

  • Eat vegetables raw whenever possible. Generally, raw produce is healthier. In one interesting study, blood levels of vitamins A and E rose significantly in people who ate raw fruits and vegetables for just one week. One exception to the "raw rule": When cooked, carrots yield more nutrients.

  • Cook veggies for the shortest amount of time possible. Short-term microwaving, steaming, stir-frying, grilling, and other such quick-cooking methods preserve the greatest amount of nutrients. By contrast, prolonged exposure to heat, water, and air destroys vitamins in vegetables.

  • Veg up your favorite foods. Sneak veggies into soups and stews. If you love pizza, order one topped with vegetables.

Veggies are probably the best fuel you can put in your body, when you get right down to it. Try a few of my suggestions, and your body will thank you for it.

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