Vegetables and fruits provide essential vitamins and nutrients, but some are better than others.
Fifty percent of your nine-inch plate should be occupied by vegetables and fruits (mostly vegetables if you are trying to lose weight).
Rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, vegetables and fruits are at the core of your long-term plan to reach and maintain optimal health. And because they’re low in calories and provide plenty of bulk to fill you up, they’re a great tool to help you take charge of your energy intake.
Be wary, however, of the fried vegetables typical of fast food chains and other restaurants, as well as many common packaged fruit juices. They have been stripped of their nutrients and are loaded with fat and sugar.
Vegetable and Fruit Choices
Vegetables and fruits make up a whopping 50 percent of your meals—so it’s especially important to select the lowest-glycemic varieties. Although a small amount of low-glycemic fruit is permitted while you’re optimizing your weight, it’s best to focus on vegetables for your vegetable/fruit component. The following charts are arranged from lowest glycemic (dark green) to low glycemic (light green) to high glycemic (red).
Vegetables from the dark-green charts have very little effect on blood sugar and insulin, and they should be used freely. In fact, if you find that you absolutely need a little something need extra as you’re settling into your new eating strategy, you can select from this component. Celery is a great crunch choice!
Unhealthy Vegetables and Fruits: A Habit of Disease
It’s truly criminal what the processed and fast food industries do to once-healthy fruits and vegetables. Think of such “delights” as the Bloomin’ Onion, tempura vegetables, and sadly, the number-one selling vegetable in our country: French fries. In fact, I’ve had to put the poor potato—a healthy vegetable in some circumstances—in the starch category based on the high-glycemic, high-carbohydrate manner in which it’s usually prepared and eaten.
But what about fruit juices? Surely that’s a healthy choice! The sad reality is that most packaged juices contain nothing more than high-fructose corn syrup with a little fruit “waved” over them. As such, they contain a high level of non-nutritive calories in a form that’s so hard for the body to detect that it doesn’t even sense it’s being overloaded with calories. The result: excess weight and a whole host of diseases.
The provided charts should give you the guidance you need to begin choosing healthy fruits and vegetables if you haven’t begun doing so already. These guidelines will help cut through the misinformation and misunderstandings surrounding what constitutes healthy food. Tomorrow, we will discuss healthy protein choices, which will be helpful for your new Weekly Habit of Health.