Soaring numbers of people with Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease are convincing us that it's time to start eating healthier. You may be thinking to yourself, "Well I have a salad for lunch once in a while and try to snack on fruits."  That's a nice start, but it doesn't mean you're eating healthy.

A 2005 study by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., shows that 57 percent of the typical American diet comes from processed foods that really aren't good for you. These include refined grains, hydrogenated vegetable oils and added sugars.

"The problem with processed grains is that during the refining process, the B vitamins, fiber, protein and fat they contain are all removed. Hydrogenated vegetable oils, or trans fats, are responsible for raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. Sugar contains empty calories that offer no nutrition value whatsoever," says Anne DiCello, a registered dietitian from Cleveland, Ohio, who adds that it's never too late to set things right.  "All you have to do is stop eating processed foods and turn to whole foods instead," she says.

By definition, whole foods are foods as close to their natural state as possible. They have had little or no processing and have retained most, if not all, of their original nutrients and fiber. Examples of whole foods include:

* Organically grown fruits and vegetables that are rich in naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and plant phytochemicals.

* Nuts which are good sources of fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, copper, magnesium and the amino acid arginine, for each of which there is evidence of a role in preventing heart disease, cancer and other health problems.

* Whole grains like wheat pasta, brown rice and milled oats that contain B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber as well as other valuable antioxidants not found in some fruits and vegetables.

These unrefined foods offer many health benefits.  In its recently revised Food Pyramid, the U.S.D.A. recommends Americans consume at least 12 servings of whole foods a day. If you follow the agency's suggestion of eating several small meals instead of two to three big ones each day, you'll find it easy to do.

DiCello offers these recommendations for people trying to work more whole foods into their diets:

* Shop for local produce when it's in season and freeze it so you'll always have whole foods on hand.

* Bring fruits, nuts and vegetables with you to work or school and snack on them throughout the day.

* Look for creative ways to work whole foods into your diet. Fruits can be crushed at home and used in juices and smoothies; vegetables can be turned into soups; whole grains can be turned into home made breads and rolls.

"The key to getting all the nutrients available from fruits, vegetables and grains is consuming the whole thing. Don't throw away the pulp, peel and seeds. They contain fiber and a lot of the beneficial phytochemicals you need," says DiCello who points out most people throw them away because they're not sure how to process them.

It is very easy to do if you have the right tool for the job. Anyone who has ever used the Vita-Mix Super 5000 will tell you it's the only kitchen appliance you'll ever need. The machine performs 35 different functions, everything from juicing whole foods to cooking hot soup, grinding whole-wheat berries into flour and kneading dough for whole grain bread.

The reason for the machine's incredible function is its powerful commercial-grade motor that drives precision-guided blades capable of crushing up and cutting whole food fiber down to the cellular level so your body can benefit from every nutrient. You don't have to throw anything away. Just wash your fruits and vegetables, turn on the machine, and everything -- skin, peels, stems, leaves and seeds -- will be liquefied. Whole grains can be cracked for cereals or ground into flour for preservative-free homemade bread.

Here are some recipes you may want to try:

* Cantaloupe, Pineapple and Banana Cooler

1/2 cup cantaloupe
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 medium banana
1/8 inch slice lemon, with peel
1/2 cup 100 percent cranberry juice
1 tablespoon honey or other sweetener, to taste
3/4 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in Vita-Mix container in order listed. Secure 2-part lid. Select variable speed #1. Turn on machine and quickly increase speed to #10; then to high. Run for 1 minute or until smooth. Serve immediately.

* Sweet Pea and Potato Soup

1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweet peas, steamed
1/2 cup potatoes, scrubbed and cooked
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
1 cup skim milk, hot
1 teaspoon onion
1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions: Place all ingredients in Vita-Mix container in order listed. Secure 2-part lid. Select variable, speed #1. Turn on machine and quickly increase speed to #10; then to high. Run for 2 to 3 minutes or until steam escapes through lid. Serve immediately.

When you order your Vita-Mix whole food machine, it will come with cookbooks and a DVD to get you started. The machines are made right here in the USA and the company has customers whose machines have been in constant use for 25 years or more.

For more information, log on to www.vitamix.com/pr

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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