Sodium has long been labeled the blood-pressure bogeyman. But are we giving salt a fair shake?
A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension analyzed data from 8,670 French adults and found that salt consumption wasn’t associated with systolic blood pressure in either men or women after controlling for factors like age.
Why not? One explanation, the authors write, is that the link we all assume between salt and blood pressure is “overstated” and “more complex than once believed.” It should be noted, however, that even though the study found no statistically significant association between blood pressure and sodium in the diet, those patients who were hypertensive consumed significantly more salt than those without hypertension—suggesting, as other research has, that salt affects people differently.
As for the factors that did seem to influence blood pressure, alcohol consumption, age, and most of all BMI were strongly linked to a rise. Eating more fruits and vegetables was significantly linked to a drop.
“Stopping weight increase should be the first target in the general population to counteract the hypertension epidemic,” the study authors wrote.
All of which is surprising given the fact that Americans are bombarded with warnings that we eat far too much: just yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report finding that 90% of U.S. children eat more sodium than guidelines recommend. Almost half of that comes from 10 processed foods that kids tend to eat a lot of: pizza, bread, processed meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, processed chicken, pasta dishes, Mexican dishes, and soup.
The CDC firmly believes that salt directly influences blood pressure. “We consider the totality of the evidence,” said Janelle Gunn of the CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at a press conference. “A vast majority of scientific research confirms that as sodium is reduced, so is blood pressure.”
We’ve reported before that the science surrounding salt is crazy confusing, and conflicting studies come out with some frequency. In keeping with the frustrating reality of so many nutrient groups, no one side has definitively won the debate.
In the meantime, it surely can’t hurt to curb some of our salt-laden processed-food intake—but the pounds we shed may be even more helpful than the salt we shun when it comes to lowering blood pressure.
I first came across the “phenomenon” of drinking pure celery juice, every morning, on an empty stomach, while delving deep into the pages of Medical Medium by Anthony Williams, as I was researching practices and tools for Thyroid Yoga.
I’m sure most of us are familiar with typical green juice, which usually consists of fistfuls of dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, along with cucumber and celery, and oftentimes herbs, lemon, ginger, and apple may be added to sweeten. They’re run through a masticating juicer (which keeps the veggies at low temperatures to preserve all of their enzymes and vitamins, which would otherwise be destroyed by heat) to separate the fiber from the liquid, reducing pounds of fresh produce down into a juice that is comparable to liquid gold in its potency—or rather, liquid green. It’s a powerhouse of a drink, with all those deep greens and their antioxidants, phytonutrients and enzymes transferred into a liquid form that can be easily sipped down, thus bypassing the energy-consuming process of digestion.
So when I read about the healing powers of celery juice, my interest was piqued, but drinking plain old celery juice seemed pretty boring and pedestrian compared to the majesty of the green juice I’m used to. However, let me tell you that if green juice is the queen, then celery juice is the magician. Williams, in Medical Medium, says celery juice, “is one of the most powerful and healing juices we can drink. Just 16 ounces of fresh celery juice every morning on an empty stomach can transform your health and digestion in as little as one week.”
Celery contains compounds called coumarins, which are known to enhance the activity of white blood cells and support the vascular system. It also helps to purify the bloodstream, aid in digestion, relax the nerves, reduce blood pressure, and clear up skin problems. Celery is rich in vitamin A, magnesium, and iron, which all help to nourish the blood. Celery juice is also rich in organic sodium content, meaning it has the ability to dislodge calcium deposits from the joints and hold them in solution until they can be eliminated safely from the kidneys. Sounds pretty phenomenal right? I was certainly intrigued enough to give the simple green juice a try. Here’s what happened:
1. It gave me easy, blissful digestion, and more energy, to boot.
The discomforts of indigestion, bloating, and even acid reflux are often caused by low stomach acid. Studies have shown that people with Hashimoto’s (the autoimmune thyroid condition) and hypothyroidism (low thyroid) often have low, or lack of, stomach acid, and low stomach acid sets off a wheel of undesirable health consequences. Many of us are all too familiar with the fact that when we’re stressed one of the first things to go out of whack can be our digestion. This is where the superhero of celery juice steps in, as its natural sodium content raises stomach acid, and when drunk first thing in the morning primes you for easy digestion for the rest of the day. Stomach acid is essential for breaking down food, particularly protein. If your stomach acid is lowered, the body then has to step in using more resources to try to digest that food, thus making you tired. This also leads to liver backlog, so there’s less chance your liver will be able to keep up with the onslaught of toxins it has to process from mere everyday life, as well as its job of balancing blood sugar and recycling and producing new hormones, among its many other tasks. The liver is a heavy-duty organ—and as you can see, this is where the cycle continues, continually overwhelming the body so it never has a chance to reset, heal, and thrive. Every once in a while this may be OK (we all get stressed from time to time!), but if this is happening continually, it can lead to more chronic and serious manifestations of dis-ease in the body. Once I started drinking celery juice, I noticed that my food digested easier. Instead of uncomfortable feelings of fullness and heaviness after meals, I instead felt satiated but still light and could go on with my activities easily.
2. It made me slimmer.
With its ability to improve digestion, celery juice also kicks one of the most pesky symptoms of digestion to the curb: bloating. Celery juice is an effective natural diuretic, and along with its ability to flush toxins out of the body, it reduces bloated abdomens and edema, too. With my stomach acid raised and my digestion improved, I wasn’t bloated once during my experiment with celery juice—since everything was running smoothly through my system and digesting well, there was no chance for food to get backlogged, sit there undigested, and therefore cause gas to build up.
3. It reduced my cravings.
Oftentimes, cravings are the body’s way of calling out for nutrients that we are low or depleted in. For instance, if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, I’ve found you’ll crave all things salty. This is not a mistake of the body, as the adrenals need minerals to function at peak performance—like the minerals that are found in high-quality salt. Unfortunately we can often confuse this craving for wanting a bag of potato chips! With my food being broken down, digested, and therefore assimilated better, my body could soak up all the goodness and nutrition I was putting into it. All of my body’s nutritional needs were being met better, and thus I never found myself craving foods or reaching for foods out of habit, because I was much more satiated.
4. I felt sharper.
Since stomach acid is essential for breaking down proteins, the amino acids in my food were being broken down better and became more bioavailable. Amino acids are precursors for creating neurotransmitters, so in theory, the simple act of drinking celery juice even made me smarter. I was firing on all cylinders during the month, and the surplus of energy I had from my food being digested better also helped give rise to a more natural feeling of being a superwoman. Feeling less overwhelmed also helped to reduce stress, thus creating a happy, natural cycle.
5. I experienced a feeling of Zen bliss.
Celery is a major alkaline food. This means it helps to purge the body of acid and toxins and cleanse the liver and bloodstream like nothing else. It helps to smooth out frazzled nerves and soothe any tensions from stress. I found drinking celery juice to have an amazingly calming and relaxing effect on my mind, body, and emotions—so much so that I often found myself making it at the end of a busy workday to help switch myself out of go-go-go mode and wind down for the evening. It gives you the feeling of post-meditation bliss and an internal “ahhhh.”
Want to try it out for yourself? Here’s a quick and easy recipe for celery juice (no fancy juicer required!).
The Quickest, Easiest Celery
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
6 medium sweet potatoes (6–8 ounces each)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons white miso (fermented soybean paste)
1 2/3-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated (about 2 teaspoons)
2 1-inch pieces scallion (dark-green parts only), thinly sliced lengthwise
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp. Transfer bacon to a sieve set over a small bowl; reserve drippings.
Return bacon, 1 Tbsp. drippings, sugar, and sesame seeds to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar turns the color of milk chocolate, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread out evenly; let cool. Break brittle into shards. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400°. Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45–55 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Working over a large bowl, scoop out flesh from 8 halves, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick layer inside skins. Place potato halves on same foil-lined baking sheet. Scoop flesh from remaining 4 halves; discard skins. Mash flesh with a whisk; add eggs, butter, miso, and ginger and stir until mixture is smooth. Spoon or pipe filling into reserved skins. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Bake potatoes until the tops are lightly puffed and golden brown, 30–35 minutes (potatoes will take longer if they’ve been chilled). Top potatoes with bacon-sesame brittle and scallions.
Obesity led to 20,000 cases of kidney cancer in England in the last decade, experts claim.
The incidence rate of kidney cancer has soared by 40 per cent over the same time period and the rise is expected to continue, said Cancer Research UK.
About a quarter of kidney cancers are linked to excess weight and the same proportion to smoking.
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “It’s concerning to see kidney cancer cases rising like this.
“Being overweight or obese is linked to 13 types of cancer, including kidney which is becoming more and more common.
“Similar to smoking, where damage to cells builds up over time and increases the risk of cancer, damage from carrying excess weight accumulates over a person’s lifetime.
“Making small changes in eating, drinking and being physically active that you can stick with in the long term is a good way to get to a healthy weight and stay there.”
Each year in the UK about 11,900 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed and 4,300 people die from the disease.
Scientists are still not sure why being overweight can lead to kidney cancer, but suspect a link with insulin.
The hormone, important to the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, is partly processed in the kidneys.
Being overweight or obese can result in insulin resistance – when the body stops responding properly to insulin – which can allow insulin levels to rise. This in turn may cause cells to divide more rapidly.
The number of kidney cancer cases attributable to obesity was calculated by combining population statistics with data showing the chances of overweight people developing the disease.
Adam Freeman, 46, a lawyer and father of four from south London, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2013.
After undergoing surgery to remove a kidney, he is now cancer free.
“When it comes to my lifestyle, I would say that the little devil on my one shoulder won over the angel on my other, so I ducked exercise and ate badly a bit too often,” he said.
“Now, since my diagnosis, I try to listen to the angel rather than the devil on my shoulder.
“I have tried to make things more habitual and rarely skip exercise or make bad food or drink choices.”
With the recent news you should now be eating 10 fruit and vegetables a day, it is high time you know which are worth chowing down on and which aren’t doing much for you.
It turns out nutritionists are all in agreement when it comes to which super-fruit is going to turn you into a superman. The humble blueberry.
The power snack is a superfood which contains anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and a survey by Byrdie of 17 different dieticians found that they’re the best of the basket.
Nutritionist Frida Harju explained: “If you are going to add one fruit to your diet, make it blueberries. They have been labelled a superfood due to their high levels of polyphenols, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory compounds that help to combat memory loss and enhance your mood.”
The antioxidants help with both cardiovascular health and brain functioning, the berry also is high in fibre, helps with digestion and good for your skin.
It can be easy to say, “I’m going to eat more vegetables.” But when it comes down to it, many of us fall short of our daily needs. Pack in the veggies, and the flavor, with these 95 creative ways to boost your meals, drinks, and snacks.
1. Let seasonal produce shine. Our Spring Vegetable Grain Bowl, which uses raw shaved veggies as well as English peas, creates a whole-grain meal packed with nutrients.
2. Plant your own vegetable garden. It’s hard to avoid eating healthier when fresh fruits and veggies are growing in your own backyard.
3. Feature a new vegetable each week. Experiment with new and seasonal vegetables, and invite friends over to try new dishes together.
4. Bag the bread and instead wrap your sandwich inside a leafy green, or try one of these healthy lettuce wrap recipes.
5. Cook more greens. Chef Jenn Louis’ new cookbook The Book of Greens boasts an encyclopedic yet engaging collection of recipes for everything from kale and collards to tatsoi and purslane.
6. Pick your own seasonal produce or visit the farmers’ market for a fun weekend activity to get up close and personal with farmers and their crops.
7. Dine in for date-night dinner. Forget the steak. In our Shiitake and Asparagus Sauté with Poached Eggs recipe, earthy, meaty shiitake mushrooms balance lemony asparagus and a rich, perfectly poached egg for a meal portioned for two.
8. Pack them into pasta sauce. Vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and peas can amp up the flavor and nutrients. Consider starting with our Mostly Veggie Pasta with Sausage recipe. We reverse the typical meat to marinara ratio and use sausage as the flavor agent instead of the base and add in plenty of vegetables.
9. Fish-free sushi isn’t just cheaper to make, it also gives you a chance to really pack in the vegetables. Shiitake mushrooms, avocado, and cucumber are just a few of our favorites.
10. Dress for success by shaking together a few pantry staples to create additive-free, lower-sodium dressings that are perfect for veggie dipping or tossing.
11. Blend them into your favorite smoothie. Check out our Best Green Smoothie Recipes.
12. Add them to eggs. Vegetables make excellent additions to omelets, frittatas, and breakfast sandwiches. Eggs are already a great source of protein, so up the nutrition factor by filling them full of colorful vegetables.
13. Sneak them into your morning muffin. These zucchini muffins make a delicious breakfast on-the-go.
14. Toss them in a stir-fry, like our Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower for a quick and easy dish for Meatless Monday.
15. Save the stalks. Stalks from broccoli and cauliflower are edible and eye-openingly delicious. Save outer peels for stock, and shave the stems into salads, or sauté, roast, or steam them just as you would the florets.
16. Swap your usual salad, and opt for a vegetable salad. We use a mandoline in our Baby Vegetable Salad to create thin, even slices dressed with olive oil, honey, lemon juice, as well as fresh tarragon and dill.
18. Amp up your cheese board with the addition of vegetables. Thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes make for excellent palate cleansers, and any pickled veggies will create a balanced board.
19. Buy a CSA Box. Support your community by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers and usually available for weekly delivery.
20. Stir them into a stew. Our saucy Chicken and Poblano Stew with Polenta is a Mexican twist on Italian comfort food, especially when served over creamy polenta.
21. Get juiced by creating drinkable vegetables. Recover from a late night, or just pump up your morning, with flavorful veggie juices. Juicing is a great way to get a serving—or two—of plant-based nutrients in a single glass.
22. Stuff them into sandwiches. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, vegetables also add nice crunch and flavor to sandwiches.
23. Feature them in spring-inspired cakes. Vegetable cakes, that is. We combine zucchini, and shrimp in our Zucchini and Shrimp Cakes then top them with a Snap Pea Relish.
25. Turn them into chips. Whether you’re thinking zucchini, beet, or sweet potato, our healthy homemade chips help you eat more veggies and save you tons of fat and sodium.
26. Learn how to create beautiful salads that are balanced, colorful, and brilliantly simple.
27. Snack your way through dinner with our favorite new trend. Load up a sheet pan with fresh veggies, fruit, and other goodies to make a DIY dish that the whole family will love.
28. Pickle and preserve them. Turn surplus veggies into a quick pickle to use throughout the week—or a sealed batch to last months.
29. Eat by color. Make the effort to eat a colorful diet, and you’ll eat more fruits and vegetables.
30. Savor them in a meatless main, like our Chickpea Panzanella filled with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
31. Adopt a plan-forward approach to Mexican food with smoky salsa, satisfying veggie tacos, and saucy enchiladas.
32. Bake them into a tart or savory pie. By pairing a load of vegetables with a little meat and sauce, you’ve automatically got a filling and nutritious meal.
33. Snack on them as you cook. Toss potato, carrot, and parsnip peels with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned and crisp. They’re delicious!
34. Stuff them into lean cuts of meat. High-flavor ingredients like fresh baby spinach embellishes our succulent pork loin in an elegant slow cooker main.
35. Use our cookbook, Everyday Vegetarian: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes for new recipe inspiration.
36. Go frozen. It’s always vegetable season in your freezer, and frozen still boasts stellar nutritional value.
37. Pulverize them for a quick dip. Sweet peas offset the kicky heat of wasabi in our Pea and Wasabi Dip—a zippy alternative to hummus.
38. Swap sweet potatoes for wheat-products. Sweet Potato Crust Quiche is a reader favorite, while thinly slicing the tuber and toasting it can also make for a great gluten-free breakfast option.
39. Make stock. Save tough outer peels and snipped parts of turnips, rutabagas, squash, and beans; mushroom stems; bell pepper scraps; and other odds and ends to make vegetable stock.
40. Whip out waffles to keep your daily vegetable-intake going. Sweet potato waffles can be dressed up to be sweet or savory, and you can always add a bit of shredded zucchini to your family’s favorite recipe for a zucchini bread-like twist.
41. Make over your lasagna. Our healthy veggie lasagna will make your taste buds sing.
42. Designate the start of each week as “Meatless Monday,” and eat only plant-based the entire day.
43. Feature them at your next barbeque. That’s right, throw those veggies on the grill. Our grilled fruit and vegetable recipes showcase some of our tastiest combinations.
44. Make greater gravy by adding in vegetables during the cooking process. Mushrooms and spinach will add rich flavor and texture.
46. Take the pie road. By that, we mean, create healthy homemade pizzas supercharged with veggie toppings that fill nutritional goals for the day.
47. Bake them into your favorite dessert—like Mom’s Rhubarb-Apple Crisp.
48. Double the portions. Double the amount of vegetables in a recipe—when you can—to reach your goals faster. Same goes for portioning out raw fruits and vegetables for snacks.
49. Use them to top your favorite breakfast food.
50. Stir into soups. Take advantage of spring produce (or use up what’s leftover) to create vegetable soups that satisfy any time of year.
51. Turn them into tasty vessels by stuffing vegetables with foods like quinoa, couscous, falafel, and more.
52. Pack veggies into pesto. The food processor will do all the work for you. Make your favorite pesto recipe and add in a handful of spinach or some cooked mild vegetables (zucchini is great) to bulk up the sauce.
53. Keep them visible. Your mind—as well as your body—is responsible for many of the food choices we make, so put fruit and vegetables where you can see them. Research shows where we store food has much to do with what we consume.
54. Fire up the slow cooker. Use your favorite appliance to help you create hands-free vegetable dishes that are sure to please.
55. Fry vegetables into fritters. Whether you go traditional with something like latkes or get adventurous with our Indian-Spiced Pea Fritters recipe, shredding or mashing veggies can create wonderfully crispy cakes.
56. Buy precut vegetables. Snagging veggies that are ready to eat saves on prep times and give you quick options for lunch or snack.
57. Dunk them in your favorite dip. Instead of reaching for chips, try dipping carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers, into hummus, homemade salad dressing, pesto, or peanut butter.
58. Makeover your mash. Make mashed potatoes healthier and creamier by adding roasted cauliflower.
59. Keep track of what you eat. Writing down everything you consume during the day will help you eat more mindfully.
60. Thicken soups and stews with vegetables. Okra is a natural thickener (gumbo, anyone?), and so are starchy foods like potatoes. If a creamy soup is what you desire, blending up cooked corn or cauliflower will result in rich tasting, but still light, dishes.
61. Swap your spaghetti. Try new noodles by spiralizing veggies into long strands. Twirl up a forkful and you won’t even miss the pasta.
62. Set a goal. As a nation, we know we’re not eating enough fruits and veggies. But how much is enough? See our handy guide to learn how much you should be eating based on your age, gender, and physical activity.
63. Mix up your meatloaf and save over 260 calories per serving. Mushrooms and peas are just two of the secret ingredients for a better, plant-packed dish.
64. Start with an appetizer. Start with vegetable soup or a healthy dip paired with vegetable strips. You’ll get an extra portion in and curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.
65. Create a hash by chopping and tossing together almost any veggie you have on hand. Carrots, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and more have a place in this modern meat-and-potatoes dish.
66. Try them dried. Satisfy your cravings for something crunchy by noshing on vegetable chips or dehydrated vegetables. They’re still nutritious and delicious for snacking.
67. Bag them. Portion out baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, cucumber strips, snow peas, bell peppers, and other veggies into individual bags, so they’re easily accessible when hunger strikes.
68. Build a better bolognese with a veggie-packed recipe. Butternut noodles and mushroom-filled sauce can trick even the most refined palate into thinking they’re indulging.
69. Pile them on a potato. Dress potatoes with grilled vegetables, steamed broccoli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, or whatever flavor combinations you love.
70. Char up some flavor by blistering vegetables. Broiling veggies like green beans or asparagus lead to a wonderful extra flavor, without much extra effort.
71. Rethink your rice. Our cauliflower “rice” delivers a light and fluffy texture that you’ll love. Dish it up as a side, serve it with stir-fry, or mix it with homemade sushi.
73. Gussy them up with a glaze. Amp up cooked vegetables by tossing them in a glaze, like sweet chili sauce or thin BBQ, and cooking for a few minutes to create a deliciously thick coating.
74. Build the best bowls by relying more on vegetables than grains or meat. Create a base of cooked or raw veggies, extra points if they’re spiralized, to bulk things up without adding too many calories.
75. Change up Taco Tuesday by focusing on veggie-forward toppings and sides. Skip rice and serve Purslane in Green Salsa or Esquites (Corn Salad) on the side, while topping your main dish with Salsa Chipotle.
76. Take your toast to a new level by adding in veggies. While avocado may be your first choice, it’s actually a fruit. Some great vegetable options are sprouts, chopped cherry tomatoes, cooked kale, shaved carrots, and more.
77. Start the day with a salad. While they might seem the opposite of regular morning fare, breakfast salads are full of fresh flavor (and veggies) while still nodding at tradition by keeping ingredients like eggs and bacon.
78. Cook up a jar of savory jam to use all week long. Our favorite ways are to toss it into pasta salads, top pizzas, and slather on sandwiches.
79. Pair with fruit. Get your daily intake of both fruits and veggies by throwing the two together in dishes like mango salsa, salads, and fruity gazpachos.
80. Make it all in one pot. Nobody wants to make extra dishes so one-pot recipes like Sweet-and-Sour Carrots make the meal, and clean up, so much easier.
81. Choose them for their benefits. It’s easy to cook for taste alone, but getting to know immunity-boosting recipes that rely on ingredients like carrots and mushrooms may just help you through the allergy or flu seasons.
82. Dehydrating vegetables can be the ‘cooking’ option few think of. Either invest in a dehydrator or set your oven at a low temperature to create veggie chips, fruit leathers, and more.
83. Go half and half. Replace half of your main ingredient with veggies, like in Creamy Carrot and Herb Linguine, to bulk up your meal and give you a vegetable boost.
84. Say cheese with a drizzle of decadent sauce which can instantly upgrade a bowl of steamed veggies. Keep it light, but still indulgent feeling, with our healthier cheese sauce.
85. Change up your deviled eggs by blending vegetables in with the creamy filling. This makes a particularly impressive display if you use bright produce like beets or peas.
86. Pep up polenta by blending in creamy white vegetables like cauliflower or turnips.
87. Serve up smoky flavor by using the easy technique of cold smoking on vegetables. Now there’s no need to fire up the grill for amped up veggies.
88. Make the vegetables the dish. Some veggie recipes, like Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, bake into a perfectly packaged dish, making plates totally unnecessary.
89. Roll out the ravioli and make it even better by adding in veggies. Creamy vegetables like butternut squash or pureed spinach make for great pasta fillings.
90. Create caramelized goodness by cooking veggies low-and-slow. The results of this are tender and ultra rich vegetables.
91. Hasselback your next veggie of choice for a fun dinner side. Thinly slice foods like potatoes, zucchini, or even carrots to create an evenly cooked, but lightly crispy, dish.
92. Skip the fries. Next time they ask if you want fries for that, say no, and ask for a salad instead. Or if fries are a must have opt for a healthier version like these Chili-Cheese Spiralizer Fries.
93. Plan ahead. While eating more vegetables may sound fantastic, the reality is that busy schedules often make the daily washing, trimming, chopping, and roasting of fresh food unrealistic. Consider prepping the week’s vegetables over the weekend, so it’s easier for you to grab and cook.
94. Start every meal with a salad. You may not want to eat multiple salads everyday forever, but it’s a great place to start.
95. Make life easier. Invest in a reasonably priced, all-purpose chef’s knife. The sharp tool will make quick and efficient work of any kind of vegetable butchery.
We all know the health perks of eating more vegetables: A wealth of research has found diets rich in fruits and vegetables lower blood pressure, decrease risk of heart disease, can reduce blood cholesterol levels, and may offer protection against certain types of cancers.
But all that means just fresh vegetables, right? Frozen veggies must not be as nutritious as plants plucked straight off the farm. Well, not so fast, says science.
The Claim: Frozen Food Is Just as Good as Fresh
Research from the University of Georgia, funded by the Frozen Food Foundation, looked at the nutritional value of supermarket produce over the course of two years at various stages: when they were fresh; in the fridge for five days; and frozen. The Frozen Food Foundation selected the nutritional variables to look at as well as the produce (broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, green peas, spinach, blueberries, and strawberries were studied).
The resulting study, published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, found that all three methods of storing for the selected produce are generally nutritionally equal to one another.
Read more: Selected Nutrient Analyses of Fresh, Fresh-Stored, and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables from Journal of Food Composition and Analysis
The goal of the study, said corresponding author Ron Pegg, is to disprove the assumption that frozen produce is significantly less nutritious than fresh produce.
“There is a misconception out there that if you freeze [produce], you are losing the nutrients, the vitamins, and the minerals,” says Pegg, who designed the study. “And that fresh is much better than the frozen. That is not the case at all.”
One surprising finding, however, was that some frozen vegetables — like English green peas and green beans — actually offered higher levels of nutrients than their fresh counterparts stored in the fridge. Pegg, who calls the freezing process “Mother Nature’s pause button,” explains that frozen produce arrives at the processing plant “at the peak of ripeness.” Because of this, sometimes produce has higher values of nutrition than what is found in the supermarket. Green peas, for example, have been found to lose 52 percent of their “wet weight” 24 to 48 hours after being picked.
“To us this is very intuitive, because the produce is taken at their peak ripeness and frozen right away,” says Pegg.
Does This (Industry-Funded!) Claim Hold Up?
Now, we know what you’re thinking. This study was funded by the frozen food industry itself. Are the results suspect? Can we trust them?
The best way to evaluate is to look at other, similar research. Science usually moves forward not in huge leaps and breakthroughs but through slow, iterative accumulation of research findings building on each other, after all. What do other studies say?
When it comes to frozen vegetables, other research does support much of this industry-funded study. A 2015 study from University of California Davis looked into the nutritional profiles (fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.) of eight fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables — corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries — and found no significant differences between the fresh and frozen produce. According to lead author Ali Bouzari, whenever fresh or frozen produce had an edge over the other, it was “slight.”
In other words, fresh and frozen are going to be quite similar in nutritional profile; the industry-funded study’s findings that some frozen food had more nutrition is probably dependent on many variables. At the end of the day, there are marginal differences between fresh and frozen produce, and much of the disparities can be accredited to an array of external variables like what point in harvest is the produce frozen or how long fresh produce has been sitting out before being purchased — fresh produce can sometimes be traveling for weeks before it makes it to a grocery store.
“Frozen foods are not, by definition, less nutritious than fresh food,” says Bouzari. “They can be, but it can also go the other way.”
The Really Important Thing? Just Eat More Fruits & Veggies
While the exact amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for adults varies based on several variables (age, sex, and level of physical activity), the USDA’s MyPlate — an updated advisory standard that replaced the food pyramid — recommends half a consumer’s plate to be filled with fruits and vegetables. In a 2013 report, the Center for Disease Control found that 33 percent of American adults consumed less than one serving of fruits and veggies a day.
In this context, the consumer victory lies in eating fruits and veggies to begin with. “If you’re eating fresh or frozen produce, in the grander scheme of making healthier choices, you’ve made one of the healthiest choices you can,” says Bouzari.
“Something is better than none, but a combination of fresh and frozen — you can throw some canned and 100 percent fruit juice in there too — is best,” says Marjorie Cohn, RD, CDN, and a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
When it comes to fresh and frozen vegetables, there’s a shifting trend among younger diners: According to The NPD Group, millennials and Gen Zs are responsible for the growth in fresh and frozen vegetable consumption. Specifically, those under the age of 40 have increased their annual intake of fresh veggies by 52 percent and frozen vegetables by 59 percent over the past 10 years.
In comparison, those 60 and older have decreased their consumption by 30 percent and 4 percent for fresh and frozen vegetables, respectively.
When it Comes to Fresh or Frozen, Flavor Is King
While the nutritional composition of fruits and vegetables may fluctuate, consumers can rely on a different scale when deciding whether to go frozen or fresh: flavor.
“A good litmus test and a good metric is the overall quality and deliciousness of produce,” says Bouzari.
Cohn, on the other hand, recommends eating fresh produce when it’s in season and not shying away from frozen alternatives. “My general rule of thumb is that if the fruit or veggie is in peak season, eat it fresh — it’ll probably be more nutritious that time of year,” he says. “For the rest of the year, simply try to get variety and more veggies and fruits overall. Peak season and local will likely always win out on the nutrient scale.”