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We love carbs as much as the next person, and there've been occasions when I've walked several blocks out of my way to get meat on a stick. But research shows that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies provides a boon of benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease, and the effects of aging -- something that probably couldn't be said for devouring copious amounts of shawarma.
"Ultimately, the food pyramid recommends a total of nine servings of fruits and vegetables," says Lisa Young, PhD, author of The Portion Teller Plan and adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. "However, if that seems daunting, rather than fixate on a fixed amount, make sure to have just one vegetable or fruit with each meal." Whether that means adding a banana to your morning cereal or putting tomato and lettuce on your lunchtime turkey sandwich, it's an easy way to get your greens in without keeping a tally sheet.
Or practice the "50 percent rule": aim to have half of your lunch or dinner plate covered in veggies. Not only will this help you get your nutrition fix in, but you'll also likely shed some weight: "Each bite of vegetable has 3 to 4 times fewer calories than any other bite of food on your plate," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.