One Wonderful Food
There is food that will help you lose weight, increase your odds at longevity, help keep your digestion regular and generally make you feel great! The combined effect of the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and water in this food can't be matched by even the most expensive supplement. This food is economical – and it comes in many flavors to meet all tastes.
What is this amazing health food? Vegetables; but more specifically: non-starchy vegetables.
Certainly, potatoes, yams, winter squash, peas and legumes have many positive nutritional attributes. However, since potatoes, in the form of French fries, are the most consumed "vegetable" in the United States and unhealthy excess weight is a concern for the majority of Americans. The reason for making this distinction should be obvious.
Starchy foods can be a concentrated source of calories and are frequently accompanied with lots of unhealthy fat. Therefore, for the purposes of a weight management program, starchy vegetables, winter squashes, peas and legumes should be counted as part of the "starch/carbohydrate" foods and consumed without lots of added fats. If weight loss is your goal – then, non-starchy vegetables are your "secret weapon."
The benefits of consuming a diet replete with a variety of vegetables are remarkable! Still, the typical American diet is sorely lacking this marvelous food group. A 2005 article published by The Center for Disease Control (CDC) affirmed "A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk for chronic disease." The CDC concludes that the research results "underscore the need for continued interventions that encourage greater fruit and vegetable consumption among U.S. adults."1
Also in 2005, the USDA released the updated Food Guide Pyramid. One of the most dramatic changes in dietary recommendations was made in the area of fruit and vegetable consumption. The total recommended servings jumped from 3-5, to 5-9 total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.2 That's a lot of food!
You will know that you're eating enough non-starchy vegetables when your lunch mates say, " Are you going to eat all that?"
Vegetables are high volume and measured in cups. One cup of raw vegetables or one half cup of cooked vegetables equals "one serving". Depending on your body size, activity level and calorie level of your food plan, you may be consuming 2-5 servings of fruit daily. The remainder of your recommended daily intake will then range between 3 and 7 servings of vegetables. To get more specific, go to MyPyramid.gov to find out what your recommended calorie intake is, estimate your fruit intake, then, determine how many servings of vegetables you should consume. If you choose non-starchy vegetables for weight loss, you will quickly see that you can lose weight, feel great and never go hungry!
For the skeptic or compulsive calorie counter – relax! On average, one half cup of non-starchy vegetables contains about 25 calories. Still, these wonder foods pack a huge nutritional punch. Just a few of the most prevalent nutrients found in vegetables are: potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A and Vitamin C. Dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol, keeps your bowels functioning well and makes you feel fuller. Folate helps the body build new red blood cells. Vitamin A protects your skin and eyes and helps protect against infection. Vitamin C keeps gums and teeth healthy, is important for wound healing and aids in the absorption of iron.2
At Red Mountain guests arrive from all over the world for an adventurous mix of outdoor activities, spa pampering and weight loss or other health programs. They are often shocked when they learn that the breakfast and lunch meals are served buffet-style. A closer look at the items on the buffet reveal a plethora of – yes, non-starchy vegetables!
Red Mountain Spa's favorite non-starchy veggies:
Bell peppers (all colors)
Broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccolini, broccoflower
Collard greens (without the traditional added fats)
1Fruit and vegetable consumption among adults--United States, 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Mar 16;56(10):213-7.