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Fruits & Vegetables

 

An easy way to get your 5-a-day

Drinking vegetable juice is an excellent way to get two servings of veggies in one 50-calorie cup. But before you head to the market to pick up a bottle, consider this: Packaged juice is often sky-high in sodium. One popular veggie blend, for example, contains 500 milligrams of sodium, or nearly a quarter of the amount you should consume in a day. One solution? Whipping up your own concoction in a juicer. Try a combination of pineapple, apples, carrots, and celery, or tomatoes, carrots, and celery with a dash of lemon juice or hot sauce.

The berry best

Women should get a minimum of four servings of fruit a day, and half of those should come from berries, according to researchers at University of South Florida's Center for Aging and Brain Repair. All types of berries--blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, even cranberries--contain more antioxidant power per serving than many of their produce peers. Studies have shown that berries not only fight cancer, heart disease, and aging, but also sharpen memory and improve brain function.

The aspirin effect

Here's one new explanation for why eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is linked to lower heart-disease risk: Plant foods, including herbs and spices, contain the same anti-inflammatory compound as aspirin -- salicylic acid. (The hardening of the arteries that leads to heart attacks is a chronic inflammatory process.) In a Scottish study comparing vegetarians and nonvegetarians, the nonmeat-eaters had higher blood levels of salicylic acid. Fruits and vegetables with the highest content are broccoli, chili peppers, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, dates and plums.

Banish bitterness

Wish you enjoyed eating vitamin-rich brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, and cabbage? There may be a way you can. A new study from the University of Ulster in England found that women who didn't consume at least 7 milligrams of zinc daily (the RDA is 8 milligrams) were more offended by bitter tastes than those who ate more than that amount. Boost your zinc intake with fish, lean beef, chicken, yogurt, and nuts.

The orange truth

When it comes to orange juices, not all are created equal. Depending on the type of orange juice you buy and when you drink it, you might not be getting as much vitamin C as you think. Compared with ready-to-drink OJ, frozen concentrates contain significantly more vitamin C -- about 86 milligrams per cup vs. 27-65 milligrams. The reason: Pasteurization and packaging processes destroy vitamin C. What's more, once a container of any type is opened, vitamin C in both types of OJ plummets by about 2 percent a day. Drink frozen-concentrate OJ within the first week of mixing it or buy ready-to-drink orange juice three to four weeks before its expiration date and drink it within the first week of opening it.

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