Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Veggie Despair

You read it everywhere: Americans should be eating three cups of non-French-fry, non-creamed-corn vegetables daily. For an adult, that equals a salad for lunch and maybe a cup of vegetables as a supper side dish. For a kid, that equals something INSURMOUNTABLE. I think my twelve-year-old boy gets three cups of vegetables per week, and that's if I count things like cooked carrots and onions in soup, sauce, and chili.

Sigh. Thinking of you, Willie Green's.
Worse yet, the recommended three cups of veggies a day come from the USDA's, which means more would probably be better, since the USDA recommendations are still hamstrung by meat, dairy, and grain lobbies.

Then there were these three articles that hit this week:

1. The Minneapolis Heart Institute found that "[w]omen who ate a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables as young adults were much less likely to have plaque build-up in their arteries 20 years later compared with those who consumed lower amounts of these foods." That is, starting early with the veggies pays off over a lifetime.

2. Then MedPageToday added fuel to the fire, reporting on an English study which found that super-veggie eaters--those who ate seven or more servings per day--had significantly lower death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease than veggie-avoiders.

And finally, 3. The L.A. Times reported on a Cell Metabolism article claiming those of us middle-aged or approaching middle-age folks who skimp on the veggies and replace them with protein, protein, and more protein, are "more than four times as likely to die of cancer or diabetes, and twice as likely to die of any cause, than those whose diets were lowest in protein." Yikes! (If you're over 66, however, keep pounding the steaks and cheeses because the high protein levels counter "a period of growing frailty" characterized by "loss of weight and muscle mass." You go, Paleo Senior Citizens!)

So not only are we all not getting enough vegetables for today, we're crippling ourselves for the future. Sigh. What can be done? I can keep pushing the salads and vegetables, but it's not like my family's consumption is going to change overnight.

There may be one possibility: I made my first veggie-centric smoothie yesterday. Spinach, banana, apple, ginger, and lemon. A little ice and a little water. Not bad! I liked it, the 14YO drank 1/4 cup, the 10YO drank 1/4 cup, and the boy--the boy drank 1/8 cup!

In my book, that counts as a serving. I could be onto something. Keep you posted.

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