Judy E. Buss
Chances are that you don’t consider a doctor’s visit or lying in the intensive care unit your favorite pastime. One of the keys to preventing such “funless” outings is linked with the landscape on your plate… We are constantly bombarded with environmental toxins as well as those internally produced as the natural byproduct of metabolism. The business of these toxic substances is to attack and damage cells resulting in illnesses including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, cataracts, macular degeneration, Parkinson’s etc. They also cause viral or bacterial infections, inflammation, and the acceleration of the aging process.
Luckily, a healthy diet rich in vegetables and other plant foods helps provide a formidable defense against such ailments. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and other natural compounds that act as heavy artillery to deactivate or destroy toxins determined to assault our cells. A deficiency of these protective plant agents can be one of the causes the body becomes susceptible to disease. Antioxidants, a particularly potent and large family of disease fighters, are vastly concentrated in vegetables and fruit. Among these natural wonder-drugs are: beta carotene, glutathione, indoles, lycopene, and quercetin. Some of the top botanical performers are: green leafy vegetables, members of the cabbage family, tomato, avocado, garlic, onion, asparagus, potato, and sweet potato, and other red, orange, and yellow vegetables.
Fresh veggies offer the most active vitamin, mineral, enzyme, and antioxidants. Frozen ones yield less, and those which come in a casket (canned), contain practically none. An additional major advantage of including vegetables in one’s diet is their abundance of fiber, which lowers cholesterol and acts as a natural and effective laxative, assuring a faster exit of toxic matter.
Buying fresh produce does not guarantee its nutritional value; much depends on how it is handled and prepared. Vegetables should be refrigerated (except garlic and onion), and cut up immediately before they are used. Store-bought, pre-cut veggies present a drastically reduced dietary value. Several cooking methods render them almost useless: Cooking them immersed in water, then discarding the liquid. However, this is not the case with soups and stews since the broth is consumed as well. Roasting or baking them in intense heat, including – sorry friends – casseroles, also diminishes their nutrition. Fresh, raw veggie salads and briefly steamed or cooked covered (not fried) produce, deliver the most health-boosting benefit.
If you wish to live longer, rather than to die longer, get up close and personal with veggie wonderland! Below is a recipe for you to try – enjoy!
AVOCADO and CITRUS SALAD
4 large Romaine lettuce leaves, shredded
1/2 Haas avocado, peeled
3 – 4 fresh mint sprigs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl make the dressing. Detach the mint leaves from their stems (discard the stems), chop the leaves coarsely and add to the dressing. With a serrated knife peel the orange, cutting into and exposing its juicy flesh. Holding the fruit over a small bowl to catch the juice, cut between the segments and lift them free. Halve the segments, watching for seeds and removing them. Add the orange, its juice, and the lettuce to the dressing mixture. With a teaspoon, scoop out small avocado chunks and gently mix into the salad. Serve on chilled plates.
“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.
Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.
Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.