What? No Broccoli??

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February 7, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller

imagesI’m sure you’d have this look on your face, too if you realized that there was no broccoli…or carrots…or spinach…or ANY vegetables in your fridge, right? Okay, maybe not quite the alarm this sweet little girl shows, but maybe it’s time to reconsider the importance of certain foods that we include in our diet DAILY—maybe ‘no veggies in the fridge’ should cause some alarm!

A scientific review of over 150 studies that examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and various cancers found statistically significant protective effect of fruit and vegetable consumption in 128 of 156 dietary studies looking at relative risk. Simple interpretation: the lower your intake of vegetables and fruit, the higher your risk of cancer (along with other major health challenges, such as heart disease and stroke). I like the odds of high vegetable and fruit intake for lowering my risk of disease much better.

Especially beneficial are the cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli (hence this little girl’s alarm!), cabbage, and cauliflower. Fruit seems to get top billing on most peoples’ lists when a choice is given between fruits or vegetables, yet vegetables can provide even greater benefits. Maybe it’s time to change up priorities a bit to benefit from the numerous benefits of veggies—what do you think?

Think of your typical daily intake of vegetables—be honest—and ‘make a deal’ with yourself to increase that number by one serving daily. I realize that for some of you, that may mean that your goal for veggie intake is now 1 serving per day, but that’s a start. Increase by one serving each week or so until you’re up to at least 4-5 servings/day—of vegetables, that is—and no, potatoes, French fries, hashbrowns, and ketchup are not veggies when it comes to counting servings! A few servings of fruit are great as well and are typically much easier to make happen, so the focus should be on veggies

Fresh is best, if that option is available—especially organic fresh, with frozen being next best. Minimal cooking time is also best (think steaming instead of submerging in water & boiling to death or microwaving). Heavy sauces aren’t needed and aren’t a healthy option. Think herbs and spices instead. Search via Google for recipes for fresh veggies—you’ll find thousands to choose from! If you’re on Pinterest, I have a board of Healthy Veggie Recipes as well.

The health benefits of veggies and fruit are not limited to cancer prevention and reducing risk of heart disease. The list of additional benefits is long, which should push your ‘Veggie Priorities’ to an even greater level. One of my personal newer favorites is Roasted Brussels Sprouts (thanks to my daughter, Amy)—they’re amazing!

Thanks for reading! Please share with those you love…

Reference: Block, G., Patterson, B. & Subar, A.:  Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Nutr. Cancer: 1992; 18(1): 1-29

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