(CARLSBAD, CA) – Popeye eats his spinach and gains supernatural strength, but the veggie-eating, bicep-bulging cartoon character isn’t enough to convince most Americans to follow suit. In fact, there appears to be a national distaste for leafy greens and their colorful counterparts.
Perhaps you have your own childhood memories of sitting for hours at the dinner table, unable to leave until you choked down the brussel sprouts on your plate. These may not be the fondest of memories, but it looks like mom was right! Vegetables not only contain important vitamins and minerals, but modern research indicates that a veggie-packed diet can even prevent some life-threatening diseases.
A Harvard University study shows that an increased vegetable intake can cut the risk of heart attack by 30 percent. Meanwhile, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has found that people who eat three or more servings of vegetables daily maintain their mental capacities 40 percent longer than people who eat one or fewer servings.
Yet, despite all the research and moms’ persistent nagging, Americans are still failing to eat our vegetables. The Center for Disease Control reports that only one-fourth of Americans eat three or more servings of vegetables daily.
Munching on enough veggies may seem like a daunting task, especially when the newest guidelines recommend four to eight servings every day. Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc. offers these suggestions for sneaking more vegetables into your daily diet.
- Drink up – Drinking at least three glasses of vegetable juice per week decreases the risk of dementia by an astonishing 76 percent, according to a Vanderbilt University study. The key ingredients are polyphenols, which you can gain by purchasing a can of V-8 or by tossing a few vegetables into your blender to create your own smoothie.
- Go mini – Mini-veggies, making their prominent debut in produce aisles across America, are usually sweeter than their full-size counterparts. They cook quickly and they’re covered in the same antioxidant-rich skin as regular-sized vegetables.
- Spike your sauce – Grate onions, carrots, beets, spinach and zucchini in your food processor, then toss them into your favorite marinara sauce. Vegetables can also be easily tossed into soup, pizza, lasagna, stir-fry dishes, and casseroles.
- Visit the Mediterranean – A trip to Greece may not be in the budget, but it’s an easy task to adopt the Mediterranean diet right here at home. Sauté your vegetables in olive oil and herbs. They’ll taste sensational, and you won’t have the extra calories of butter or cheese.
- Grow a green thumb – There is a sense of satisfaction when you’ve grown your own food. Enlist your kids in the gardening process, and they’ll be more likely to eat the vegetables that they’ve planted and cultivated.
- Make it convenient – If your time is limited, buy a vegetable tray from the supermarket. The veggies are already washed and cut up, so you can easily reach in the refrigerator and eat them throughout the day.
Be adventurous and try some new ideas for adding vegetables into your daily diet. Adopt a few small changes and you can make mom proud.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.