The Benefits of Seven Top Crops
By Karlyn Grimes, MS, RD
As an active teen, you need to gobble up to 13 servings (6 1⁄2 cups) each of fruits and veggies every day. Filling half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal can help you meet this lofty goal. Learn about seven sensational veggies that deserve more space on your plate.
Benefits: Rich in nutrients; helps fight anemia; activates the body’s own detoxifying enzyme systems; builds health and helps prevent cancer; helps lower the risk of stroke and heart diseases; may reduce the risk of cataracts
Snack idea: For a quick veggie “pizza,” spread low-fat ranch dressing or cream cheese on a piece of pita bread and cover with broccoli pieces and more of your other fave veggies.
Benefits: good source of potassium; can help control blood pressure; has anti-inflammatory effects
Snack idea: The classic—spread peanut butter on sticks and sprinkle with raisins.
Benefits: Excellent source of vitamin C; contains high antioxidant levels; can reduce risk of heart disease
Snack idea: Slice into strips, add a low-fat cheese on top, and microwave.
Benefits: High in antioxidants; good source of vitamins B and C, potassium and iron
Snack idea: Poke a few holes in the potato using a fork and microwave (use baked potato setting). Cut in half and top with low-fat sour cream or salsa.
Benefits: Richest low-fat source of vitamin E; important source of vitamins A, C and B6, iron, potassium and fiber; good source of dietary antioxidants; helps to regulate high blood pressure and also helps anemia; may also protect against inflammatory conditions
Snack idea: Cut up like french fries, spray with low-fat cooking spray and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Benefits: Contains a useful amount of folate, potassium and vitamin A
Snack idea: Top slices with cubes of low-fat mozzarella cheese. Pop in the microwave or toaster oven until cheese melts.
Virtuous Veggie Tactics
1. Cut up a variety of veggies to store in your refrigerator or purchase pre-washed and cut bags of salad greens (as of press time, not spinach) or portable veggies such as baby carrots, celery or grape tomatoes.
2. Frozen veggies often retain more nutrients than fresh veggies, because they’re frozen immediately after they’re harvested. Fresh veggies, on the other hand, must be transported, and often sit around at the store and home before being gobbled up, resulting in a loss of nutrients.
3. If canned vegetables are your thing, make sure you choose “no added salt” varieties.
4. Dip your favorite veggies in a low-fat dip or dressing to tantalize your taste buds.
5. Jazz up veggies or whole-grain crackers or chips with salsa. Even better, mix salsa with low-fat refried beans and canned, drained black beans for a delicious dip. Serve with whole-grain pita wedges.
6. When ordering pizza, request extra tomato sauce and load on the veggies.
7. Add extra veggies and beans to chili, soup and/or pasta sauce.
8. Indulge in some veggie-based breads such as zucchini and carrot.
9. Add beans to your salad for an added protein and fiber punch.