Most Americans need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Opinions vary on exactly how much to eat each day. The Centers for Disease Control recommend at least five servings each day and the Harvard School of Public Health recommends at least nine, but consensus on the benefits is uniform: Increased vegetable intake can result in decreased risk of diabetes and can aid in weight loss.
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Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green, leafy vegetables pack a big nutrition boost, are loaded with healthy fiber and don’t have many calories. Choose vegetables like alfalfa sprouts, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, dark lettuces, parsley, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress and wheat grass. Green, leafy vegetables also tend to be low in carbohydrates. One 3 1/2 oz. serving of alfalfa sprouts contains only 0.4 g of carbs, kale has 1.4 g and spinach contains 1.6 g per serving.
It’s easy to incorporate more raw leafy greens into your diet. Try tossing a handful of spinach or kale into a salad made mostly with romaine lettuce, or add raw sprouts to your sandwich. If some greens taste too strong on their own, you can chop them up and toss them with a small amount of olive or avocado oil and a bit of salt.
Carrots are a tasty and healthy choice. Not only do they taste great raw, carrots are sweet, crunchy, juicy and contain only 6 g of carbohydrates in a 3 1/2 oz. serving. Carrots are also one of the least expensive vegetables to buy organic, according to the Growing Raw Health website. Dip raw carrots in hummus; grate some onto a salad or just crunch on plain baby carrots.
Zucchini is another good choice for weight loss. MayoClinic.com recommends zucchini as part of a healthy, diabetes-fighting diet. Zucchini contain only 1.8 g of carbohydrates per 3 1/2 oz. serving and is easy to eat raw. You can cut zucchinis into rounds and dip them in hummus or low-fat dressing, shred them into a salad or add them into smoothies. Zucchini’s creamy texture and mild flavor allows it to blend seamlessly into almost any meal.
Replacing your usual snacks, such as chips or candy bars, with raw vegetables is a great way to lose weight. For the most nutritional benefit, choose a variety of vegetables, including green vegetables and those with a “rich yellow, orange or red color,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Try sliced, raw red, orange or yellow bell peppers with low-fat dip. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves to raw sugar snap peas or combine cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and whole-grain crackers.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Centers for Disease Control: How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Vegetables and Fruits
- MayoClinic.com: Diabetes: Nonstarchy Vegetables
- Lasting Weight Loss: Low Carb Vegetables Carbohydrate Gram Counters
- Growing Raw Health: Raw Vegetable Diet Boost
- The Best of Raw Food: Starting a Raw Food Diet