If you are like most Americans, you are not following this critical health practice. Who is “they”? In this case, people peddling the latest complicated fad diet.
The secret is not-so-secret: eat your veggies. I have written previously that one of the simplest things we can do to improve our health and longevity is to ensure that we’re eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I also reported four years ago that 90% of Americans don’t get enough of these disease-fighting powerhouses. A recent report in MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) found that that number has not improved any: Only 13% of Americans are getting the CDC-recommended intake of 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day, and 8.9% are getting the recommended 2-3 cups of veggies per day.
Besides providing health-promoting phytonutrients, fruits and veggies provide that forgotten nutrient, dietary fiber, that is profoundly linked to good health. How do you get started on jumping out of the 90%? Just be sure to include a serving of fruit or vegetable every time you eat (and no, French fries don’t count).
Must we live on broccoli alone? Of course not — nuts and seeds also promote longevity, and you can grab some dark chocolate for dessert. Besides its by now well-known cardiovascular benefits, a recent study from the University of Arizona found that chocolate containing at least 60% cacao actually improves attention, as measured by EEG. So after a nice salad for lunch, grab an ounce of dark chocolate to help you through that mid-day slump.