“Eat your vegetables.”
We’ve hard it so often that it’s easy to take for granted. Sometimes, however, we need to slow down and actually consider why vegetables are so important to our overall health. Perhaps knowing their importance will motivate us to eat better. Eating a wide variety of vegetables helps you reduce the risk of chronic diseases and provides essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies can’t produce themselves, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov, a site created by the USDA.
The site goes on to say, among numerous benefits, that vegetables are low in fat, reduce the risk of heart disease, and can even protect against certain forms of cancer. A diet with plenty of vegetables is excellent for improving blood pressure, reducing the chances of kidney stones, and defeating type 2 diabetes.
Eating plenty of vegetables is also a good method to reduce the amount of unhealthy foods that you eat. For example, if you eat a large plate of sautéed veggies, you are less likely to eat a helping of high-fat casserole.
Having a diet rich in vegetables helps you look better and feel better, but, to be frank, some vegetables aren’t appetizing. One of the biggest reasons that people don’t eat vegetables is because they don’t like the taste or they simply find them unappealing. Fresh broccoli, asparagus, carrots, bell peppers, and many other vegetables simply aren’t as appealing as a cheeseburger, a slice of pizza, a deli-meat sandwich, or a plate of pasta.
So how can you make vegetables more appealing to yourself and your family? As you’ll see, making vegetables more delicious, without sacrificing nutrition, is actually quite simple.
12 Healthy Ways to Make Vegetables Tastier and More Delicious
Salt gets a bad reputation, largely because it’s jam-packed in processed foods. However, a pinch sea salt won’t hurt if it helps you eat a plateful of vegetables. Don’t get excessive with the salt (that would taste bad anyhow), but make sure to give each recipe or veggie dish a little salt to enhance the flavor and make it more savory.
In addition to salt, using a bit of fat (again, not too much) can help spread and enhance the flavor of vegetables. Olive oil has many benefits, including better heart health and stroke prevention. Olive oil can also enhance the flavor by coating the vegetables with a smooth, healthy layer that goes great with a crispy crunch. If you don’t have olive oil, a small amount of butter can also be used with your vegetables.
There is no one herb, seasoning, or spice that is wrong for vegetables. They all have their benefits and should all be considered for your cooking. What’s your favorite seasoning? Do you like Italian-style seasonings like oregano or basil? Do you like the hearty flavor or thyme or bay leaves? No matter what you like, a bit of seasoning can enhance the flavor of even the most bland vegetables. One suggestion you might try is the combination of fresh garlic added to sautéed vegetables for enhanced flavor while adding a nutritious, natural taste.
Frozen vegetables and canned veggies have their purpose, but if you want to serve and eat the most delicious vegetables possible, you have to work with fresh, high-quality veggies. Use vegetables from the super market that are crisp, colorful, and ready for the kitchen, and serve them up with the best seasonings for outstanding results. Frozen vegetables usually have the same nutritional qualities as fresh, but they’re not nearly as delicious.
When you eat vegetables, it doesn’t have to be all plants. Who says you need to eat a bland piece of broccoli? Add bacon bits, parmesan cheese, chorizo sausage, or sunflower kernels to make the vegetables more appealing. Depending on the veggie and the recipe, you could also add fresh cheese, raisins, Chinese noodles, orange slices, or virtually any other flavorful ingredient.
Large hunks of veggies can be off-putting for some people, but smaller pieces can help mask the flavor. Smaller chunks (think diced) will have more surface space for olive oil, butter, salt, herbs, and other flavorful additions, making them far more delicious.
One of the most effective ways to increase your vegetable consumption, especially leafy greens, is to add salads to your diet. However, some types of dressings (creamy dressings like ranch in particular) tend to be high in calories, sugars, and saturated fats. That’s why vinaigrettes, which are made with oil and vinegar, tend to be healthier options. Of course, each brand’s dressing is different, but if you find a vinaigrette that you like (such as raspberry or garlic), it will often (but not always; check the nutritional info) be a healthier choice.
If the thought of eating a naked carrot stick stick seems unappealing and bland, experiment with a few hummus dips or other relatively-healthy dip options. Humus is made from chickpeas, which are actually quite healthy compared to other dips such as ranch dressing or sour-cream-based vegetable dips. While hummus is not perfect (it can still be full of fats) a review published in the journal Nutrients stated that “substitution of common dips and spreads with hummus helps to increase diet quality.” They researchers added that it could help prevent some diseases and improve weight management.
Have you found that while you can’t stand veggies prepared at home, Chinese-food veggies seem to be more appetizing? While many Chinese foods (at least the type we Americans call Chinese food) can utilize unhealthy, often sugary sauces, they also use a technique called blanching, which quickly boils the veggies then drops them in ice water to stop the cooking. You can then grill, sauté, roast, or simply eat the veggies as-is. This is a good way to soften vegetables without making them mushy.
Few vegetables have as much flavor as onions, and while raw onions are a powerful food (so powerful they make us cry!) diced onions can be added to virtually any dish to increase the overall flavor. Diced onions can be added to steamed carrots, sauced broccoli, or baked cauliflower. Anything that needs flavor will get a boost, as well as added health benefits, from onions.
Lots of people don’t like carrots and celery, but who doesn’t like chicken noodle soup? If you don’t have a craving for veggies, perhaps you could make a soup (soups are surprisingly easy!) that will allow you to add more plants to your diet. Soups cook for a long time, mellowing and weakening the vegetables’ flavors. Soups can even have veggies in the broth, such as a tomato soup with minced carrots as part of the broth. From beef and barley soup to chicken and dumplings, making soups is a great way to add veggies and more water to your diet.
If all else fails, try completely hiding the vegetables. Meatloaf, for example, can be loaded with mashed vegetables, largely masking their flavor and their presence. You could also make zucchini or banana bread with grated carrots. Another strategy is mashing vegetables into sauces for noodles or rice, increasing vegetable consumption without having to “suffer” through the task of actually tasting them.
Cooking Techniques to Avoid
Boiling makes fresh, crisp, flavorful veggies soggy, mushy, and flavorless. Boiling also robs the vegetables of water-soluble nutrients, making them less nutritious. Take a look at the water next time someone boils broccoli; the water will have a greenish tint, and that green color holds many of the nutrients that make broccoli healthy. Instead of boiling, stick to blanching, roasting, or sautéing.
Frozen veggies are a good alternative for a busy weeknight when you need a fast, convenient vegetable in your meal. However, they can be mushy, soggy, and just as unappetizing as over-boiled veggies. Yes, they are generally as nutritious as fresh vegetables, but not nearly as delicious.
Adding Fake Cheese
If this article was just about ways to make vegetables more flavorful, then adding fake, processed, orange cheese that comes in a cardboard box would be a viable option, but this is about healthy ways to make vegetables more flavorful. Smothering your broccoli in processed fake cheese might make it creamy and delicious, but it can add a large amount of saturated fat and calories. According to EatThisMuch.com, a single ounce of Velveeta-brand cheese has 80 calories and 56% of the recommended calories from fat. (And that’s only one ounce!) It also contains 18% of your daily sodium and 18 grams of saturated fat. It might make the veggies more appetizing, but it won’t help your waistline or your health.
Now you’re ready to improve your diet with tasty, healthy vegetables. With these tips, you’ll eat better, have more energy, and slim your waistline, all while finally enjoying the vegetables you’ve been missing out on for years!
If you were to ask most Americans about losing weight, they’d likely talk to you about eating less. This is a fair point, as weight loss often boils down to calories in against calories out. Bring in fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose more weight.
But many people will likely cite the inability (or unwillingness) to eat less as a reason for not losing weight. For whatever reason, they simply can’t find the personal disciple to eat half a burger or a smaller order of fries. That second helping of pizza is so easy; just drop it on your plate and off you go. An extra spoonful of pasta is hard to pass up when there are plenty of leftovers.
But what if you could lose weight without significantly cutting back on the amount you eat? What if you could maintain a filling, satisfying diet without cutting back on your portions? You can, but it all comes down to what you eat as well as how you eat…
How to Eat Well, Be Healthy, and Look Great
Breaking the Less-Food Myth: Choose Quality Foods Instead of Lowering the Total Quantity
There is little doubt among the scientific community that the quality of your food is just as, if not more, important than the quantity. For example, a study from researchers with Stanford University found that people who focus on eating vegetables and whole foods, and are not necessarily concerned with portions, are more likely to lose weight. Calorie counting and portion sizing have their roles in overall fitness, but this study suggest that they should take a back seat to the simple principle of eating quality foods. Interestingly, this strategy worked for people regardless of whether they were focused on low-fat dieting or low-carb dieting.
Dietary guidelines may have changed since you last looked at them, especially if you were in school twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, while calories matter, it may be time to focus on quality over calorie counting. So what constitutes quality foods? The article says that high-quality foods are generally minimally-processed and usually unrefined. This includes fresh produce, such as fruits and veggies, as well as whole grain breads and cereals. Healthy fats and healthy sources of protein should also be considered when creating a diet plan.
Lower-quality foods, as you might have guessed, are the ones that have, in general, gone through the most processing. For example, highly-processed snack foods, high-sugar beverages, white grains, and fried foods often go through a long process, and generally don’t resemble their original state.
One study cited by the Harvard article included over 120,000 men and women who were studied over the span of 20 years. The researchers found that weight gain was most commonly associated with eating potato chips, sugary beverages like soda, and red meat. On the other hand, veggies, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt were associated with weight loss.
The Low-Carbs or Low-Fat Battle: A Draw?
One of the articles we looked at above referenced the debate between low-carb and low-fat diets, which are often viewed as the solution to weight problems. However, research is starting to demonstrate that, from a weight-loss perspective, neither one has a particular advantage over the other.
According to research, which once again comes from Stanford University, neither the low-carb or low-fat diet is significantly superior over the other. The study was actually an effort to see if any specific biological factors impact the effectiveness of either low-carb or low-fat diets. In other words, researchers wanted to know if certain diets are better for one type of person than another, and if so, what are the factors that impact results.
The collected data showed many results, but most notably, it implied little difference for weight loss between a low-carb and a low-fat diet.
Lose Weight and Eat Your Fill by Heading to the Produce Section
Of all the foods we’ve talked about, is there one specific type that should be the foundation of our diets? While there is certainly a lot of healthy reasons to consume meat, it’s becoming clear that limiting meat consumption may be an effective way to reduce overall weight.
Studies now show that vegetarian diets are more effective for helping people lose weight. The study found that vegetarian diets are better for reducing fat content in the body than simply reducing calorie intake through other measures. Using a vegetarian diet can be twice as effective at helping you lose weight than maintaining regular meat consumption. Vegetarians not only lose weight, they reduce the amount of muscle fat in the diet, meaning their metabolism gets a boost too. The study focused on the implications for people with metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes, but the findings are important for the general population as well. The implication seem to be that if you can reduce meat consumption and have a vegetarian meal on occasion (or often), you’ll be more likely to shed the pounds, all without reducing the amount you eat.
Is there a Right, and Wrong, Time to Eat?
So we know that eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits is better than eating lots of meats and highly-processed foods, and we’ve seen that there is little difference between a low-carb and low-fat diets (for weight loss, at least), but what about the time of day? Assuming we eat the same amount, does eating right after you wake, before you sleep, or in the middle make a difference in overall health? Is there a best time to eat? According to the research that we’ve seen, yes there is.
A study grouped participants into two basic groups: early and late eaters. They looked at when the people in the study chose to eat the largest meal of the day, which in this case is the midday lunch, and studied their weight-loss rates for 20 weeks. The results found that people who ate late lunches (who were also more likely to skip breakfast) lost more weight. This suggests that, in addition to other strategies, the timing of your meal could impact overall weight loss.
There is also a debate of when to eat your biggest meal of the day. Should it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Another study found that consuming a larger meal early is often better for your overall weight loss. This study looked at two groups who consumed a 500-calorie lunch, but one had a 700-calorie breakfast and a light supper, while the other had a light breakfast and a 700-calorie supper. Despite the fact that the nutrient content was exactly the same, the results showed that the big-breakfast group shed over twice the weight (8.7 lbs vs 3.6) and reduced their waistline by over 4 inches.
Eating Frequency: Is there a Right Amount of Meals?
You’ve likely heard the theory that eating five smaller meals, instead of three regular meals, is more effective for losing weight. It’s been passed around so often, that many of us simply take it for gospel. But is there any truth behind this theory?
According to a study from the Harvard Medical School, there is a connection between more meals and less weight. The article says that there is scientific research verifying the theory that eating four or five meals a day could bring better weight loss results. Benefits to a high-frequency meal plan include a decrease in regular hunger, which prevents overeating. It also increases your chances to eat healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads. However, if you choose low-quality foods, such as sugary snacks or fatty, salty chips, you won’t benefit from the high-frequency plan.
Final Thought: You Can Lose Weight, No Matter Who You Are!
Whether you come from a family of large or skinny people appears to be irrelevant, or, at least, less relevant than you might think. Unfortunately, some people blame genetics for their heavy bodies and inability to lose weight. While there are certainly genetic factors that may make it harder to lose weight, research shows that genetics plays a small, virtually insignificant role in weight loss.
The study that we discussed earlier, which addressed low-fat vs low-carb diets, also found that genetics plays a small role in determining weight loss. This runs contradictory to the messaging of some business that sell genetics-related approaches to weight loss. However, it appears that many in the scientific community are disputing the thought that there should be an entirely different weight loss plan for different types of people.
So while you may come from a family of large individuals, you can always lose weight. You don’t need fad diets, you don’t need specialized coaching, and you don’t need to starve yourself. As science and the experiences of many will demonstrate, it’s possible to lose weight by simply adjusting your daily routine and, more significantly, eating healthy, wholesome foods.
With the right approach, you can create a happier, healthier, more active you!
Boosting your metabolism is one of the commonly-discussed ways to increase overall weight loss. By making your body burn through foods faster, you increase your chances of loosing weight and keeping it off, which is essential to overall health for many reasons.
Everyone has theories about metabolism, but do you understand how metabolism works and how you can use it to your advantage? One of the ways to kickstart your metabolism is to eat the right foods, and there are many foods that not only taste great, but also increase your chances of loosing weight in a safe, healthy, and sustained manner.
Before getting started, it helps to briefly talk about metabolism. Essentially, metabolism means how your body digests foods and burns calories. You may hear some people claim that they can’t loose weight because their body has a “slow metabolism.” They are basically saying that their body processes foods and burns calories too slowly, and the excess energy is then stored in the form of fat, usually around the belly.
It is true that each individual will have a different metabolism, but there are things that everyone can do, regardless of genetics, to boost their metabolism. Theories abound, including frequent small meals, enhanced hydration, and a focus on strength training.
But the foods you eat can have an impact on your overall metabolism as well, meaning you can, when done right, eat a hearty amount while still burning calories. Every weight-loss plan needs to include regular exercise, but these foods can increase you metabolism and (possibly) make you slimmer.
One of the conditions we’ll mention in this article is metabolic syndrome. This is not a specific disease, but a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The syndrome can include many risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity, but it’s believed to be rooted in the body’s inability to properly utilize energy, leading to excess storage. Anyone with metabolic syndrome needs to be particularly diligent with their diet and lifestyle.
Few foods have such a positive reputation as green tea, and, among other theorized benefits, it’s also believe to boost your body’s metabolism. This theory is supported by a few different studies, including a study from researchers in Iran. In an attempt to discover the possible connection between certain doses of tea and metabolic factors, researchers worked with 63 type-2 diabetics, who all started the program with no green tea for two weeks. The subjects were then assigned random placement into four groups that had different daily intakes of tea: four cups a day, three cups, two cups, and a control group with zero cups per day. The results found that drinking four cups every day led to a significant reduction in weight and blood pressure.
Olive oil, which is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, is also believed to improve metabolism in the body. Again, we can look to evidence for the connection between eating olive oil and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a strong metabolism. A study published in Nutrition and Metabolism found that replacing other oils and fats with extra virgin olive oil could have a cardio-metabolic effect in obese adults. This study randomized 41 overweight people into two groups, those who received corn oil, soybean oil, and butter for their foods, and those who received olive oil. Three months later, researchers measured blood pressure, biochemical, and immunological factors; those in the olive-oil group had better stats for both metabolism and immunological health.
Dairy isn’t usually considered a weight-loss food, but a study from the University of Tennessee claims that three to four servings of dairy foods, including milk, could “significantly increase weight loss.” This was a 24-week study that had adults on a reduced-calorie diet eating three or four servings of dairy every day. The group lost an average of 24 pounds, which was “significantly more” than another group in the study that cut calories but ate less dairy foods. The dairy foods in this study included milk, as well as yogurt and cheese.
Garlic is a powerhouse of nutrition, with properties linked to enhanced immunity and fighting the aging process. Another attributed quality is garlic’s ability to enhance your metabolism. Garlic has a powerful taste, but adding even small amounts can increase the number of calories you burn during regular activity while decreasing your body’s tendency to produce and store fat. Adding garlic to some of your recipes, such as pasta or salads, could be the key to increasing your metabolism.
Stress has been linked to a slower metabolism; in other words, the more you stress, the slower your metabolism works and the more fat you store. However, a study from German and Swiss researchers has found that dark chocolate, by reducing stress, can actually enhance metabolism. The study found that eating only 40 grams of dark chocolate (less than 1.5 ounces) over a two-week period is enough to create noticeable changes in a person’s metabolism.
Medical News Today has a report stating that whole grains, as opposed to refined flours, will deliver a superior diet. Not only does whole-grain food reduce the amount of calories consumed, it also speeds up metabolism. Whole-grain foods can include a wide variety of products, including certain types of rice, oats, barley, and wheat. As opposed to refined grains, whole grains have not been processed to remove bran and germ, which increases shelf-life but also reduces nutritional value.
You will find lots of healthy seafood options, but when it comes to boosting your metabolism, salmon may be the best. Many cases of under-active thyroid, which is linked to low metabolism, are due to an inflammation in the gland. Salmon, fortunately, can have anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its high density of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is often believed to be better for weight loss than other seafoods, including cod.
Apple can reduce or prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition that includes a group of risk factors that combine to significantly harm your overall metabolism. A report from News Medical claims that people who eat apples, as well as apple-based foods like apple juice and apple sauce, have a 21% reduction in the chances of being diagnosed with the issue.
From cleaning the home to helping you lose weight, it seems like vinegar is one of the most effective household products in your cupboard. Vinegar is believed to have the ability to activate genes that release proteins, which in turn help breakdown fat in the body. A Japanese study found that overweight people who consumed vinegar had better body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, among other factors. Daily intake of vinegar could also be useful for reducing the chances of metabolic syndrome.
Iron is an important mineral for our metabolic systems, helping to catch oxygen for our muscles and binding oxygen for delivery to various organs. When you are looking for iron-rich foods, few are as good as beef. Although too much beef can have health consequences, eating a regular, moderate portion could be beneficial to your metabolism.
Spinach is another food that is rich in iron, and it also has plenty of other healthy benefits. Adding spinach to your salad is a great way to boost your nutritional intake while also eating low-calorie meals.
Beans can have lots pf protein to help you maintain a healthy diet, and they can also be beneficial to overall weight-loss. This is supported by many studies, including research published in Nutrition & Metabolism, which found that eating beans could increase fat burning and prevent fat accumulation in the longterm by affecting how a body processes fats.
Need a pick-me-up? Millions of Americans turn to coffee as their choice for a morning beverage or as a boost to get through the afternoon lull. However, you may want to consider coffer as a metabolism-booster as well. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that drinking coffee may promote thermogenesis, which is the production of heat in the body. Thermogenesis takes energy, so drinking coffee could kickstart your body’s engine.
Food Preparation: Is there a Strategy to Increase Metabolism?
So we know what foods are good for boosting our metabolism, but is there a strategy for how we eat? Does the frequency or routine of our diet have any impact?
Can Meal Plans Impact Metabolism?
According to popular myth, eating multiple small meals, as opposed to three full meals, is a better daily plan because it keeps your metabolism running all through the day. However, research is indicating that meal frequency may not make a significant difference in overall weight-loss or the effectiveness of a diet plan. A study from the Netherlands and Germany found that, despite the hypothesis of researchers, frequency of meals did not lead to noticeable changes in body weight.
A Little Protein with Every Meal
A strategy for kickstarting your metabolism, or at least keeping it running, is to have a bit of protein with every meal. Protein helps build muscle, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. This is a result of the fact that simply maintaining muscles takes more energy than maintaining stores of fat. Simply having a portion of healthy meat, beans, or nuts with every meal could help keep your body strong and slim.
If you are going to harness your metabolism to decrease weight, remember to eat right, strategize, and maintain consistent exercise. Eating healthy foods that boost your metabolism will have you feeling better and give you more energy through the day!