THE FOOD RULES, WEDNESDAY
EAT THE VEGGIES
6. Eat a Predominantly Plant-Based Diet.
Eat your veggies. You may have fought that parental refrain as a child, turning up your nose at broccoli and spinach, but hopefully you’ve changed your tune by now. Mom and Dad did know best on this one, even if they didn’t know the science behind the sentiment. In case you don’t either, here’s some food for thought next time you peruse the produce aisle: A diet packed with plant foods can help keep you lean, healthy, and at the top of your game.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories, making them great for weight management. They act as natural antioxidants, helping neutralize both the free radicals our bodies produce and those we’re subjected to from the environment. The common theory? This keeps us younger inside and out. Rattle off their health benefits and you can almost hear the years rewind: “They reduce inflammation, strengthen immunity, lower the risk of cancer and Type 2 diabetes, and improve blood pressure and heart health”.
Yes, plant foods may well be the super heroes of the food chain and the potent phytochemicals they contain, their super powers. Studies show indoles in broccoli may inhibit tumors, lycopene in tomatoes may lower the risk of prostate cancer, and anthocyanins in cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to membranes — boosting both dental and urinary tract health. A plant-heavy diet also helps maximize performance by supporting cell function. “The mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, and antioxidants and other key nutrients in plant foods like B vitamins and sulfur help the mitochondria function at peak efficiency”. Translation: Eat up and you’ll have more energy, on the field and off.
Wondering what it looks like at the table? Fill half to a third of your plate with veggies and make whole fruits, nuts and nut butters, seeds (try pumpkin or sunflower), and avocados your go-to snacks. Shoot for 5-7 servings of plant-based foods a day and keep them colorful. Try to eat the rainbow — at least 3 different colors a day, advises Pagano. “Bright colors equal flavonoids and polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that will help protect your cells from damage, support your retinas, and enhance your ability to excrete toxins.”
In addition to the much-hailed leafy greens and broccoli, load up on snap peas, artichokes, and asparagus; red apples, beets, and radishes and cabbage (2 great sources of sulfur); purple-blue plums, blueberries, and eggplant; yellow-orange peaches, peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes, plus white cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions.
And this may put a smile on your face: Recent research shows people who eat more fruits and veggies are happier. Consider it just another pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.