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Have a vegetable aversion? Roast it away

I took the test and nailed it like a roofer with a 4-inch nail gun. Now it’s your turn to play construction worker.

Take a piece of paper and title it “Vegetables Consumed in the Last 2 Days.” List all the ones you ate and the approximate number of servings.

According to a 2017 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, if you’d like to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer - as well as your chance of dying from any disease early - you should consume at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. (I averaged 19 by the way.)

If this test request sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is. I asked something similar of you only 11 weeks ago. So why the retest?

It’s the result of two articles I recently read - one of which puts a puzzlingly positive spin on American adults’ veggie consumption.

The one that didn’t was sent to me courtesy of Healthline Media and is titled “27 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based.” Here’s author Kris Gunnars’ logic for why you should follow Number 12: “Eat vegetables and fruits.”

“[They’re] loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects. Studies show that people who eat the most vegetables and fruits live longer and have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses.”

At this point, I normally cite a number of studies in support of Gunnars’ statement, but the importance of consuming fruits and veggies has been stressed for so long I’d be beating a dead horse. (Relax PETA people, relax. No actual horses were actually harmed in this use of this phrase.)

As a result of the frustration I felt after reading the second article, however, I really did want to whale away on a deceased relative of Mr. Ed.

The title of the Nourish by WebMD article by Amy Norton is spot-on, “Many Adults Don’t Get Enough Fruits, Vegetables” - yet what’s emphasized is nearly the opposite. A survey released on Feb. 5 by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found that 95 percent of American adults eat “some amount” of veggies every day, which the researchers called “an encouraging sign.”

So why don’t I feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy?

The article later explains that 90 percent of American adults still don’t meet the federal government’s recommendation to consume 2 to 3 cups of veggies a day - which is still only about half the amount the 2017 meta-analysis found optimal. Moreover, the NCHS survey did not ask how the vegetables consumed were prepared, so some respondents probably added French fries, potato chips, corn chips, onion rings, and ketchup to their totals.

Despite all that, Nicholas Ansai, a researcher at NCHS told Norton “it’s good to see that most people are getting some [vegetables] each day.” But how can “some” be good Seung Hee Lee Kwan, Ph.D., must surely wonder?

The 2017 CDC study he worked on found that eating less than the federal government’s recommended daily amount of fruits and veggies per day - the case for 9 out of 10 American adults - puts you at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Clearly, most adult Americans still don’t eat enough vegetables. You may be one of them.

If so, I may have a solution - though I’ll be suggesting something I only do on only the rarest of occasions.

Roast your vegetables.

The combination of spices you like, olive oil or cooking spray, and the prolonged exposure to heat in an oven give astringent-tasting veggies, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, a milder, more pleasing taste. In fact, if you use the right temperature for the right amount of time, many veggies caramelize, creating a light touch of sweetness.

I could eat caramelized carrots all day.

So why do I rarely eat them or any of my veggies that way?

It’s simple. I find 150 calories of raw or steamed carrots filling. Roast those carrots, though, and I want more.

In short, roasting creates a taste more people like, reduces the amount of food by reducing water content, and isn’t as filling as eating the veggies steamed or raw. Someone with an aversion to veggies, yet desires to be fit and healthy, can use all of that to eat more of them.

If you’re that someone, give roasted carrots a try. Top them with a mixture olive oil, cinnamon, and a smidgen of brown sugar, or a combination of honey, minced garlic, and a bit of butter. Roasting time is contingent on how thinly you slice the carrots, but at a temperature of 425 degrees, you should need between 20 and 30 minutes.

Hit it right, and you’ll swear your side dish is dessert in disguise.