A growing body of research proves that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health. In fact, fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of a healthy diet. Most people to need to double the amount the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day.
With the summer heat we’re currently experiencing, the last thing you want to do is turn on a stove, right? Turns out, eating raw foods does more than just keep you cool but it’s a smart strategy for your abs too. A groundbreaking new study from Harvard University reveals that cooking food can actually increase the amount of calories your body absorbs. That’s big news: It suggests that adding raw foods to your diet may help you lose weight and expose your abs. And there’s no better time to do that than summer, when markets are teeming with ripe produce that doesn’t need to be cooked to be delicious.
You’ll Feel Better Every Day
Eating more raw foods when they are in season and especially delicious will leave less room for processed foods, sweets and over-indulgences. Eating less junk and more clean, whole foods will help your body feel lighter, more energized and all-around healthy on a daily basis. A balanced diet that includes a moderate amount of raw foods can help keep your digestive system working efficiently, which will help nourish and enliven the rest of your organs and improve your overall wellbeing.
You’ll Chew More
All those crunchy foods can give your jaw a workout—and that’s an advantage when you’re looking to drop pounds. In a 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men who chewed each bite 40 times consumed 12 percent fewer calories than when they chewed each bite only 15 times. Turns out the extra chewing releases more of a satiety hormone called cholecystokinin; it also lowers levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stokes appetite. Plus, chewing more makes you eat more slowly, which a New Zealand study has linked to lower weight.
You’ll Be Satisfied With Less
In winter, bland imported berries, mealy cold-storage apples, and dusty root vegetables don’t make much of an impression on your palate. (Try these 8 great winter veggies instead.) Come summer, though, the robust intensity of local, in-season fruits and vegetables can help you feel satisfied with less. “Stronger-flavored foods like raw radicchio, green onions, radishes, and arugula induce satiety, tricking your brain into eating less,” says Alan Hirsch, M.D, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. For maximum impact, stick to raw versions of these flavorful fruits and vegetables, since cooking them mellows much of their pungent punch.
You’ll Take In More Water
We all know we need to stay hydrated in summer. But water-rich fruits and vegetables do more than help replace sweat—they also help fill you up without piling on too many calories. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese people who bumped up their intake of water-rich fruits and vegetables while cutting out some dietary fat shed about 17 pounds in a year, and they felt less hungry than those who only cut back on fat. And since produce contains more water (and more volume) when it’s uncooked, you’ll maximize those benefits. A cup of raw spinach, for example, has a mere 7 calories, versus 41 calories in a cup of cooked spinach.
More water can even help you fire up fat loss, a German study found. That’s due in part to the energy needed to warm the water to body temperature. And research also shows that staying well hydrated can rev up metabolism.
You Can Cut Down on Carbs
Shifting the balance of your plate toward vegetables and away from refined carbohydrates can help keep your insulin levels smooth and steady so you’re able to maintain a healthy weight. And you don’t need to listen to the deafening sounds of your grumbling stomach to make the change. A Penn State study found that substituting a lower for some of the grain and meat on your plate can help you cut calorie consumption while keeping you just as full. According to researchers, as long as you see and consume the same volume of food, you’re likely to be equally satisfied despite the drop in calories.
Raw vegetables offer even more opportunity to bring down your carb intake. Since vegetables have a tougher, more substantial texture when raw, you can even use them to stand in for chewy carbs like bread, pasta, and tortillas. Just be patient—try the swap a few times to give your tastebuds time to adjust.
You’ll Boost Fiber
Piling your plate with raw fruits and vegetables is a fast way to take in more fiber, an essential nutrient for weight loss. “Fiber slows digestion and minimizes blood-sugar fluctuations so you feel full longer,” says Brian Zehetner, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., chief science officer for Anytime Fitness. In fact, a Brigham Young University study showed that every gram of fiber you add to 1,000 calories of food may help you drop about half a pound of body weight over a 20-month period. So simply using raw produce to raise your fiber intake by 10 grams a day (something most guys need to do anyway) could help trim over 5 pounds from your body over that time.
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