Category Archives: Health

What We Should Be Thankful For

Among group-texted pictures of smiling cartoon turkeys wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, I had friends asking each other, “What are you thankful for?” One person said, friends and family. Another said, our mentors and teachers. Others said, people we work with.

I thought we should be thankful to be alive. Two weeks ago, an uncle passed away from cancer. Just seven days later, a friend died from cancer too. But it wasn’t because they died that I was glad to be alive. I was grateful because their deaths made me realize everything that I had lost, from chances to catch up with family to chances to seize important moments.

If you believe in something, pursue it, but never forget your greater purpose.

When I first got the news about their deaths,  the first thing that went through my mind were the last conversations I had with each of them. With my uncle, the last time we  spoke, I suggested a way to deal with cancer. It was our first phone call in years, and the reason I’d dialed his number was I’d heard he’d gotten cancer. I wanted to help.

His voice was barely above a whisper, so lacking in energy, that I became keen on saving him. I’d heard how supplementation could prolong his life by 50%. I was like a pesky salesperson, hoping to persuade him to see my point of view. He didn’t. We signed off after an hour of product talk. At the time, I hadn’t known that would be our final phone call. I just remember how tired he sounded.

I look back now and wonder if I’d put more effort into educating him about supplementation, then he would still be here today. I’d made a goal to help save people, yet I’d given up so easily when he showed no interest.

I was grateful, however, that I’d had the chance to try and help him. But I was sad that I was so intent on helping him that I didn’t even try to understand what he was going through in his last year. I didn’t even spend our last phone call talking to him like a niece to an uncle, which was my regret. I’d been so keen on selling him a solution. It wasn’t until the funeral that I learned what he was like as a husband and a father. I’d lost the chance to get to know him when I still could.

If you have goals, there is never the perfect time to execute them.

My friend died from cancer a week after my uncle passed away. I hadn’t been around for her in the last few months of her life. I’d been too busy with work and family emergencies. I told myself, when things settled down, when work wasn’t so busy, I would see how my friend was doing. She had been fighting cancer for two years, and three months ago, she’d outlived the expectations of her doctor who said her time was up. She’d always had a strength and love for life, so I thought she would continue the fight.

I was still waiting for details about my uncle’s funeral when I got the news that my friend had passed away. My first thought was, I’d waited too long. Life doesn’t stop for anything or anyone. Even if you have family members in the hospital and a family member that has died, it doesn’t mean people stop dying and you earned yourself a break. Tragedy will still strike without mercy.

I went through old photos of my friend and replayed conversations in my head. She had loved to talk and tell stories. There is a photo of her on stage, holding a microphone and singing. That hope for one last time together was just a hope, not a reality because I’d procrastinated.

So be grateful for what moments you have together with friends and family. But most importantly, you must never wait. There is no perfect time to tell someone you are thinking about them, or ask an old friend out for lunch. Time won’t cut you a break because you’re struggling with your own challenges, and give you the chance to catch up with someone when “things settle down.”

Thankful for friends and family that show us that life is worth living.

The passing of my uncle and my friend brought people together. I hadn’t seen my cousins in several years. I barely recognized my aunt. I think I should have been giving them my condolences when I saw them. Instead, we were introducing ourselves to each other like we were strangers struggling to attach familiar names to unfamiliar faces.

After the funeral, we chatted with each other and shared pictures that we had on our smartphones. We were hungry for updates on cousins we hadn’t seen in years, so an uncle shared photos of his travels to other countries where our relatives resided. We asked what our relatives did for a living, and where we all lived now. We exchanged numbers and took an updated family photo with all of us in our somber black and gray attire. Most importantly, we wished we could meet again in happier circumstances. Time slips away so easily.

I’ve read some stats from 2016 that said 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. I already know two. Their suffering awakened a new realization in me, about how easy it is to get washed up in the trials of everyday living, so that we forget to reach out to others until it’s too late. I believe my uncle and my friend are out there somewhere, celebrating like two marathon runners at the end of their journey. And I believe that they’re proud to have brought together their family and friends so that we can realize how thankful we are to have each other.

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Death by Tomato

If you could choose how you die, would you choose death by tomato? You see, tomatoes are everywhere, so the threat is everywhere. They are in salads, hamburgers, pasta sauces, soups, and sandwiches. They are hard to avoid. For someone like me, with a severe tomato allergy, this vegetable (or fruit) is something like the plague. And for all you food allergy sufferers out there, I’m sure you know how I feel. A death by tomato is not pretty.

It’s more challenging to eat healthy.

When I try to eat healthy by ordering a salad, I find most types of salad have tomato in them. A garden salad, for example, has those deadly red bombs – I mean vegetables – in them. I could order a caesar salad, but that has a lot of cheese, which isn’t the best idea if you’re keeping your calories down. Same with soup. Most soups are tomato based, so my non-tomato-based soup choices are limited.

Most hamburgers and sandwiches have a slice of tomato in them, so either I try to eat it, or perform surgery and remove the threat. It is more difficult, if not impossible, to remove the threat from a slice of pizza unless I resort to the child-like skill of lifting up the topping and scraping off the sauce. If I want pasta or mussels with broth? I have a choice of tomato or cream. For example, a tomato-based pasta sauce with vegetables or peppers, or the fattening alfredo, three cheese, or mushroom in cream sauce.

If tomato weren’t widely available enough, someone decided to make vegetable juices, and clamato juices so that you can find tomatoes in your juice aisle and at the bar. It’s possible to get a tomato buzz with a Caesar cocktail and a double shot.

Even your food options include tomato to make your food taste better! Ketchup for your fries. Ketchup for your hot dogs, omelettes, hash browns. Just slather that deadly stuff on everything.

You might ask, if tomatoes are everywhere, then how do you avoid them? The answer follows.

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Pizzas are tasty and filling but we must not forget that tomatoes are hidden away in there.

Living with food allergies is challenging but doable.

Sometimes I succumb to the temptations of food containing tomatoes and pay the price. I enjoy pizza and hamburger. But seriously, pizza without tomato sauce is not pizza. And lasagna without the tomato sauce is not lasagna.

So I’ve learned to live with allergies. I eat the tomato, I break out in hives and eczema. My skin turns red and ugly. I become an avid user of bandaids. My skin looks terrible so I wear clothes that keep me covered up and give people the impression I lack self confidence because I wear long-sleeved, ankle-length baggy clothes. Truth is, I need to hide the scars as well as keep my clothes airy and breathable so my skin isn’t irritated or exposed to unclean surfaces. I avoid activities that aggravate my allergies, such as hot yoga, because the heat makes my skin itchy. I carry antihistamines with me at all times and got a prescription for an epi pen because on really bad days, my eyes swell shut, and on super bad days, I can feel my throat closing.

I am grateful that my allergies don’t kill me instantly. I know that there are allergy sufferers out there who will end up in hospital from coming in contact with a piece of fruit.  I also heard about a guy who had a kiwii allergy. His lips became swollen after kissing his girlfriend although he hadn’t touched kiwii. But his girlfriend had eaten kiwii for lunch.

Sometimes I wish I were allergic to chocolate. It’s not part of the essential food groups for keeping you healthy. Having a medical reason for avoiding it would be a bonus. But for some reason, tomatoes were chosen as my nemesis.

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Half of this delicious salad seems to be tomatoes!

What can tomatoes teach you about life?

First, I’ve learned that tomatoes are a popular item in our food. We really like tomatoes as an ingredient. Whole tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, crushed into paste tomatoes, and tomato juice.

Second, I’ve learned that something that is harmless and healthful to one person can be deadly to another. I have met someone who is allergic to chocolate, and I would say chocolate is found in many food items as well. On the bright side, my friend loves tomatoes, so at a barbecue, she gets my share of the tomatoes in the veggie platter.

Third, life is about adaptation. I might not be able to do hot yoga but I can always try yoga at room temperature. My skin might not be pretty, but I look for beauty elsewhere.

Do you know any allergy sufferers/ survivors? How do they cope?

 

 

Teas and Their Health Benefits

In the city of Vancouver alone, the number of places where you can sit and have a cup of tea must be in the hundreds. Within a couple of blocks downtown, you will encounter more than one shop with its choice of teas, such as Starbucks, Blenz, and Waves, just to name a few. If you aren’t looking to hold a hot cup of tea in your hand, you can also visit a store, such as David’s Tea, to purchase looseleaf teas as a gift. With over 3,000 varieties of tea, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it is the most consumed beverage in the world second to water.

Tea can be divided into four basic categories: black, oolong, green, and white. These are classified according to processing, growing conditions, and geography. Some people drink tea for a caffeine kick, while others drink it for its calming effects and its multitude of health benefits. I like having all four types of tea, but the one I choose depends on the benefits and taste that I’m in the mood for.

Black Tea

Black tea, contrary to its name, isn’t black, but is stronger in flavour than the other teas and has the highest caffeine content. This tea is one of the most popular types in the world, particularly in Europe and North America. Boiling this type of tea at high temperatures will release polyphenols – antioxidants – and might help in the prevention of cancers such as prostate and ovarian cancer. There are studies that drinking black tea can reduce the risk of stroke, prevent type 2 diabetes, and help improve gut health. The tannins are beneficial for a healthy digestive tract. They also strengthen the immune system. Another ingredient in black tea, L-theanine,  has calming qualities that help you to relax and concentrate better. To maximize the benefit of antioxidants, it is recommended to avoid adding milk or sugar.pexels-photo-230477

Green Tea

Together with black tea, green tea is one of the most popular types of tea in the world, especially in Eastern Hemisphere countries such as China and Japan. This tea is loaded with antioxidants, which prevent free radicals from causing damage through aging and diseases. It has a history of medicinal uses in Asia because of its fermentation process, which allows it to retain much of its antioxidants. One type of antioxidant, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), gives green tea its medicinal properties. It contains caffeine and L-theanine, which improve brain function and give a mild alertness buzz. By increasing metabolic rate, it also helps to  burn fat. Green tea can also help to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Green tea can also help protect against neurodegenerative diseases, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The catechins in green tea can kill bacteria and reduce risk of infection. Further, there are studies that applying green tea leaves topically can reduce the effects of sun damage because of its anti-inflammatory qualities.

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Oolong Tea

Having the combined qualities of black and green tea, oolong tea offers the health benefits of both. The polyphenol compound in oolong tea may help with weight management by preventing enzymes from building fat. It also helps in the fight against free radicals, resulting in controlling diabetes, strengthening bones, and reducing cancer risk. It also promotes healthy skin, benefiting those with skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis by suppressing allergic reactions. The anti-oxidants slow the aging process and help with reducing hair loss if you make a tea rinse from the leaves.

White Tea

Like the other tea varieties, white tea contains antioxidants, but in comparison, it has several times as many antioxidants as green and black tea. The level of tannins and theaflavins (TFs) in comparison are lower in this type of tea. The TFs give the tea its sweeter flavour. White tea is less processed than the others, but provides similar benefits. It can reduce the risk of premature aging, as well as repair against skin damage from ultraviolet light. The anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce skin conditions such as eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and wounds. It may be helpful in preventing some types of cancer, such as lung cancer and prostate cancer. Flavonoids found in the tea help to decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also has antibacterial properties which make it a useful remedy for the flu and common cold.

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Health benefits and cautions

Tea can be served hot or cold, no matter what the season. You can enjoy a cup of hot tea by the fire during a winter night. Or sip a glass of ice tea on a sizzling summer afternoon. The many benefits of tea make it a strong beverage choice. However, there are also a few cautions to heed when having this drink.

Teas contain antioxidants, which are beneficial for your health, but the flavonoids can prevent you from absorbing the iron found in plant foods. For this reason, tea should be drunk between meals to reap its benefits and avoid some of the disadvantages.

Some people choose tea for the caffeine boost that is 50 percent less than that of coffee. Caffeine can give some people the jitters, which increases nervousness. One drink that I have instead of tea is Rev3 Energy because it has long-lasting energy, containing the caffeine from green and white tea, but low-glycemic. Tea is low in calories, unless you mix a lot of sugar in with your drink.

Studies are still being conducted to verify or dispute the many health benefits of tea. Overall, many experts agree that the antioxidative properties in tea are a boost to our health. For this reason, you will continue to find me and so many others sipping a cup of tea at different times of the year.

Why You Must Leave Your Comfort Zone

You’re standing at the front of the room, aware that every pair of eyes is on you. Palms clenched and sweaty, your heart thuds so hard it will crash out of your rib cage. You open your mouth to begin your presentation, but just a breath of air leaves your lips. You want to die to escape, but then you remember a horrible, universal truth.

Fear itself kills no one.

Never be afraid to leave your comfort zone. When I gave my first presentation in front of two hundred people, all strangers, I did an excellent job of bombing it. I could blame it on the fact that I hadn’t been properly informed about the audience – the material I presented wasn’t challenging enough and they complained it was too simple. Throughout the painful, 3600 second duration of my talk, I could feel impatient eyes pushing me off the stage. I wanted to do what they asked, to escape, but their dislike alone couldn’t make me melt under the spotlight and die.  The comments I received on the feedback forms afterward I would never frame on my wall, but I don’t regret the experience. It has become my war story about how I spoke while on hostile territory and survived.

When you get uncomfortable, you grow.

Humans can live through a lot of things, and with each experience, we stretch that elastic band that defines our comfort zone. I redefined the boundaries of mine when I gave that work presentation. I fear bombing a presentation a lot less because I’ve told myself that it’ll never be that bad ever again.

A little bit of anxiety = a little bit of adventure.

If you’re considering leaving your comfort zone, you should start with something small, like changing your routine to or from work.  Instead of taking the main road, take a detour down a neighbourhood to check out the types of buildings and people that are there. Instead of keeping to the sidewalk, venture into the corner store to discover what they sell. Don’t let metathesiophobia – fear of change – get the better of you. Get uncomfortable, by just a bit at a time.

Fear of the unknown, fear of disappointment, and fear of failure are just three phobias that prevent people from trying something new.

Fear of the unknown can be terrifying. If you look down a long, dark tunnel, and cannot see the end of it, you may not venture in. What if there’s a beast living deep inside? What if entering that tunnel causes you to lose ten years of your life for every minute you spend in it?

What if?

But what if I told you that anyone who enters the tunnel will have one of their dreams granted after they reach the other side? Would you enter then?

Take chances and leave that zone of comfort.

Traveling to a new country used to be out of my comfort zone. I was taking a job in a country I’d never been to, in a city where I didn’t speak the language, and the only person I knew would be a friend from my home city. I chose to leave my comfort zone because I needed a job that paid well, but more importantly, my friend was going to leave me to live in a place where I’d never been. I didn’t want to be apart from him, and if he were going with me, I wouldn’t be alone.

The adventure didn’t quite turn out the way I had intended. My papers came through more quickly and I ended up in Tokyo, Japan, before he did. I was in a city of strangers, armed with only a few weeks of Japanese lessons. My assessment of the situation: highly uncomfortable.

Time passed. He joined me eventually, after I was settled in. Then I got homesick and left, and an ocean separated us for many years after that. Long distance phone calls became more sporadic, and ten years later, when we were reunited, we were strangers struggling to complete a conversation. My fear had come true – our friendship had fizzled away, but I had no regrets. I wasn’t wondering if our friendship would have lasted if only I’d had the courage to follow him on his travels.

The upside of the experience was that I was more comfortable with visiting new places. Focusing on all the positive of what could happen inspired me to keep trying something new.

Leaving your comfort zone is like learning to walk.

Imagine if all babies in the world never leave the crawling stage because walking is scary. You could fall on your bum. You could sprain a finger. “Walking is hard! I give up! I’ll crawl for the rest of my life!” But at some point even babies decide to take one step at a time to leave their comfort zone and try that new way of moving that’s so efficient. It starts with standing up and putting one foot forward at a time.

Everyday entrepreneurs try to challenge themselves to do something they haven’t done before. It’s easy to feel safe and secure.  However, you attain success only when you change, and only when you change do you grow into a new you.

So how about it? How will you challenge yourself today?

 

High Heels and Healthier Feet

I love a pair of tall, black, sexy leather boots.I bought a pair during the post Christmas sale. Boots add style to an outfit whether it’s a shirt and jeans, or a slinky evening dress.  I know a lot of gals that love them too because of the way these boots make us feel: confident, deserving, and bold.

And I want to feel just as great when I get home after a day of back to back meetings, or a night about town, and slide them off my feet. Because there’s nothing as unsexy as feet screaming from the pain of a day in heels.
The secret to foot care is a finding a dazzling pair of shoes.

Start with measuring the correct shoe size.

The best time to measure your shoe size is in the afternoon, because your feet swell during the day. Having the right shoe size can prevent foot problems such as blisters. Keep in mind that one foot may be slightly larger in size than the other, so it’s better to take the measurement of the larger foot. Also, your feet may change  shape over time, so it’s recommended to take a more recent sizing.
I like shoes that have high heels despite the health problems associated with them. Some say heels make the wearer appear taller and their legs more slender, giving them a feeling of empowerment overall. Interestingly, some say it was men in the 1600s European aristocracy who wore heels to show their status as a class that didn’t have to work, and thus could wear impractical footwear. Over time, women’s fashion evolved to copy men’s shoes, to be demonstrate masculine empowerment.

Wear heels no higher than three inches.

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Wear heels with care

Additional height puts more stress on the balls of your feet because of the displacement of your body weight. Heels these days can tower over five to six inches, resulting in more injuries from twisted ankles, stumbles, and falls. However, shoes that are closer to the ground can have problems also. Ballet flats and flip flops are two types of footwear that don’t offer enough arch support. Arch support is particularly critical for those who have flat feet. If you definitely want height in your shoe, three inches is the classic height, although they recommend two inches or less to have the least disruption to the natural biomechanics of walking.

Even after settling on the ideal height for your shoe, you still have so many options available to choose from… and these options are like the sugar candy of shoes and the bane of foot health advocates.

Choose chunkier heels and wider toe boxes.

Stilettos can turn the heads of admirers, but the wearer must be able to balance their body weight, which is being pushed forward, as well as focused on a tiny area of the heel. This design decreases the body’s ability to absorb shock, and can result in knee, hip, and back pain. A chunky heel is better able to distribute body weight.
Pointed toes are another popular shoe design. Unfortunately, a pointed toe can cause problems such as hammertoes and bunions over time, because of the pressure on the sides of your toes and ball of your foot when your weight is shifted forward. A wide toe box reduces the long term risk of problems such as bunions. Another solution is buying a shoe which starts to narrow at a point further from the tips of your toes.

Wear heels but take care of your feet.

If you are like me, and can’t resist sacrificing style over comfort, you can take care of your feet and still wear those boots with four inch heels.
  1. Invest in a pair of inserts  to cushion the sole and ball of your foot.
  2. Buy shoes with good shock absorption and arch support.
  3. Alternate between wearing heels and wearing flatter soled shoes.
  4. Incorporate heel lifts and drops into your exercise routine to strengthen your ankles.
For me, I want to have feet that look good underneath that pair of gorgeous new boots. Wouldn’t you?

 

Contact me for more information about living healthy.

Tips for Better Sleep

 

We all know about the importance of sleep; yet so many of us try to go without it in our busy lives, particularly during the holidays or when we have project deadlines. I’ve seen people become zombies, getting up to go work when it’s actually their day off, or putting the milk in the oven, or falling asleep during a theatre performance they bought tickets for a year in advance.

We all need that precious time to catch up on the rest we need because… we all deserve to live longer. Research says that sleep helps with decreased stress, improved memory, and improved attention. More attention means making fewer mistakes. Who wouldn’t want that?

Now that the holidays are almost over, and some of us are going back to our hectic work schedules, we want to make sure we’re getting enough rest. To sleep better, there are some tips you can follow.

Establish a set sleeping schedule.

Try to go to bed at the same time each night, whether it’s a weekday or weekend. Your body has an internal clock, so a regular schedule will help to keep that pattern. Before bedtime, dim the lights so your body can make melatonin to help you sleep. About 15 watts is recommended. And when you wake up, get your body into the daylight to tell it to wake up.

Establish a comfortable sleeping environment.

love-romantic-bath-candlelightThe ideal environment should be quiet, dark and cool. If you live in a place where there is noise from a barking dog or passing traffic, consider playing some white noise or wearing earplugs. Keep your mattress and linens clean to avoid allergies from dust mites and other allergy triggers. Your pillow should be at the height for the natural curve of your neck to avoid neck pain and injury. If you have lower back pain, a pillow between your legs, at your knees, can increase your comfort.

Avoid activities that prevent you from sleeping.

For some, exercising before bed keeps them awake because it creates too much extra energy. However, relaxing mind/body exercises can ease you into sleep. If you like to keep on top of the news, it’s too easy to keep yourself turned into media by watching recent events or checking social media posts on friends and work contacts. Learning that a new tax is about to be implemented, however, can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Avoiding these news updates would be one way to prepare yourself to relax before bedtime. Other sources of stress can be avoided by not checking work email or having a major argument with your spouse before bed.

Avoid foods that interfere with sleep.

pexels-photo-67514-coffeeAlcohol may make you drowsy, but it can interfere with sleep patterns and wake you up in middle of the night. On the other hand, caffeine can wake you up in the morning but having caffeine after noon can keep you awake at night. And be aware: some pain killers and weight loss pills contain caffeine. Instead of coffee, try chamomile tea at night to relax you.
It’s also a good idea to avoid heavy, large meals before bed because of the toll on your digestive system. Drinking too much liquid before bedtime can also be disruptive because you may wake up in the middle of the night.

Have a bedtime sleeping ritual.

Have a routine of relaxing bedtime activities, such as a warm shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. The routine will mentally prepare you for bed. For some, sleeping pills are the best way to get to sleep. The downside of these pills are the side effects. There are some who use Pure Rest, a supplement (not a sleeping pill) which contains melatonin to help you sleep, and is produced naturally by your body.

Some of these tips for a better sleep may seem like common sense, but there are too many who aren’t catching up on sleep because of family commitments or a demanding job. Getting enough sleep helps strengthen your memory, and promotes weight loss.

And most importantly, getting enough sleep helps you to live longer because of the health benefits.

Contact me for more information about living healthy.

Vegetables You Should Know About

It’s that moment – you’re at the vegetable aisle of your grocery store and you want to select the healthiest greens for your next meal. You’ve heard about eating vegetables raw for the most benefit and you’ve heard about eating spinach because of the strength it gives Popeye.

What you may not know is that a vegetable can have both benefits and drawbacks.

For example, spinach contains vitamins C, A, and K, which lowers cancer risk, and is good for your muscles and heart. You can add it to scrambled eggs, salads, and smoothies. However, spinach can contain a number of pesticides, so it is better to play it safe with organic.

Bell peppers are a great addition to salads and other meals because of their texture and variation in colour.  They contain vitamin B and C as well as beta carotene. They have antioxidant properties, but peppers can contribute to inflammation for some people.

One staple for almost any meal is the potato. Hash browns for breakfast. Fries for lunch. Mashed potatoes or potato salad for dinner. Potatoes are a great source of nutrition with vitamins B6 and C, and even potassium. They are great with soup, but not such a boost to your health if you add too much salt or butter.

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Broccoli can be eaten in a variety of ways. It is satisfying to crunch on when eaten raw. It can also be steamed, fried, and even over-cooked until it is brown. Some cooking methods are healthier for you than others. Broccoli has cholesterol-lowering benefits if you steam it. Other benefits of this vegetable include lowering the risk of cancer and improving our body’s detoxification system. However, one downside of this vegetable is it can cause bloating.

Peas are a great addition to soups or rice dishes. However, they are starchy and glycemic, which can lead to weight gain. They also start to lose nutritional value after three days. On the upside, the fiber keeps you full. Frozen peas have vitamins A and C as well as protein, and can keep for a longer period of time.

So what should you place in your shopping cart? It’s best to know the benefits of your powerhouse vegetables, as well as the possible drawbacks of vegetables that may not be good for you. Be food-wise when you’re deciding on what vegetables to place in your cart the next time you go shopping!

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