FRUITS & VEGETABLES – Beautiful, Delicious & Healthy.

This month on my blog will be about enjoying the flavors and benefits of nature, proven to help you stay strong, lean, and yes – disease free. I will review some (perhaps unknown) health benefits of various fruits and vegetables, from A to Z, and provide some tips on enjoying their magnificent flavors.

It is true that most chronic diseases, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are preventable and yes, treatable through lifestyle choices, especially what we eat. I think you will be astonished, as I was, to learn that Mother Nature provides abundantly for our health, offering many drug-free options. We just need to open our eyes, our minds, and our mouths to these beautiful, delicious and healthy choices.

Most of us eat less than half the weekly recommendation of 1.5 to 2 cups of dark green vegetables. Most people don’t know why they are recommended.  They know they’re “healthy” but beyond that don’t understand the preventive and medicinal values they have. Moreover, many people, especially Americans, see vegetables as something they were forced to eat as a child and carry forward this unjustified dislike. Little do they realize that beyond their health values, they are delicious!

Summertime is a perfect opportunity to embrace these wonderful, tasty gifts of nature. As my dad always used to say as I was growing up, (but now doesn’t always do himself so much), “Try it, you’ll like it.”

ARUGULA, also known as Salad Rocket, is a delicious, early summer vegetable.  For those of you who think that greens and salads are boring, you will be surprised with Arugula’s refreshing, peppery taste. Like other leafy greens, it is a hydrating food, helping to keep your body hydrated in the heat of summer. Arugula is rich in minerals and vitamins, including iron, copper, folic acid and Vitamins A, C and K, boosting eye, skin, bone and brain health. Arugula also contains certain phytochemicals that may have a role in the prevention and treatment of many health conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.


Eat Arugula to improve your workout! Ounce for ounce, arugula provides more nitrates than other top veggie sources, such as rhubarb, celery, and spinach.  Nitrates relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure, accelerating blood flow so energizing oxygen is delivered to cells throughout your body more efficiently. As a result, your workouts might feel a little easier: Nitrates reduce your muscles need for oxygen during exercise, so you don’t tire as quickly.  Cycling volunteers who ate vegetables rich in nitrates cut oxygen consumption by 5%, and increased muscle efficiency by 7%, according to a 2007 Swedish study.

Here’s a surprise – Arugula makes you sexy! Centuries ago, the Romans discovered that arugula is an aphrodisiac.

Whatever your reason, just try it.  Try it in a salad, sandwich, or toss it with hot pasta, olive oil, and lemon zest.

ASPARAGUS, also rich in many anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, minerals and antioxidants also has the added benefit of aiding digestion. Asparagus stalks are rich in inulin, a unique kind of fiber that doesn’t break down in our digestive systems until it arrives at our large intestine.  Once there, inulin feeds the beneficial bacteria that keep your intestine healthy and may help your body absorb more nutrients. Asparagus is also rich in vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein, all beneficial to eye health.


This time of year, I love (who doesn’t) grilled asparagus. Other seasons, roasted asparagus is awesome. Add it to salads, frittatas, and pasta. Just be sure to eat it within 2 days of purchase as it can spoil quickly.

AVOCADO. Who doesn’t love avocado? Guacamole, anyone? Avocado is a fruit with considerable health benefits – anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, blood sugar regulating and heart healthy!  The anti-inflammatory properties of avocado are absolutely unquestionable in the world of health research. Avocado’s anti-inflammatory properties come from the Phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, non-carotenoid antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSA)s.


Consider adding avocado to salads, and not only on account of taste! Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to an otherwise avocado-free salad. My favorite way to eat avocado (thanks to my friend, Alan) is the vegetarian version of the BLT – Ezekiel toast, avocado, fresh lemon juice, tomato, s&p. Yum!