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Fruits and veggies are a great way to make sure we get plenty of fiber and essential nutrients in the diet, and a good rule of thumb is to aim for five to nine servings of non-starchy veggies and low-sugar fruits each day. If this sounds like a challenge, here’s a tip: a good blender or juicer can make all the difference!

Below are four healthful and delicious one-serving juice recipes to help you boost your greens intake without a lot of sugar. With each one, just place all ingredients in a blender or juicer and blend until smooth.

green-juiceLean Green Juice
⅓ small cucumber
2 ribs celery
1 cup trimmed kale
1 cup baby spinach
3 sprigs fresh parsley
Juice from one lemon wedge
¼ Granny Smith apple

Lemon Kale Refresher
4 ribs celery
1 cup trimmed kale
⅓ lemon
¼ Granny Smith apple

Happy Digestion Juice
2 ribs celery
1 cup chopped green cabbage
⅓ lemon

Minerals with a Zing! Juice
½ cup trimmed kale
½ carrot
¼ cucumber
½ rib celery
¼ Granny Smith apple
⅓ lemon

Feeling creative? Add a few ounces of kefir or a tablespoon of nut butter to any of the above drinks to increase the protein and fermented food content. Or, if you prefer a sweeter blend, try adding a natural sweetener such as stevia or lo han (monk fruit).

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candy_heartsConcerned about your heart? For years experts have warned us to watch our sodium intake to prevent high blood pressure—a significant risk factor for heart disease—but recent studies show that dietary salt may not necessarily be the bad guy we have been led to believe. Instead, new evidence points to a far more dangerous culprit: sugar.

Not only does it affect healthy blood pressure, but a recent Mayo Clinic report reveals that a diet high in added sugars, particularly fructose, is causing a significant increase in cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the United States—and may soon result in a nationwide epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

What many people don’t realize is that heart disease is a major complication of diabetes, and according to the American Diabetes Association having diabetes actually doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke. Excess fructose also contributes to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, and even moderate doses of added sugar over a short period of time can cause significant damage to the heart, say experts.

As you may have guessed already, Americans consume a lot of fructose—most often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup—but reducing all forms of added sugar is really the best line of defense for a healthy heart. Below are 4 important “heart healthy steps” you can take every day:

  1. Check your blood sugar levels regularly.
  2. Eliminate added sugars from your diet.
  3. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates from starchy foods such as bread, pasta, pastries and starchy vegetables. Carbohydrates break down into sugar in the digestive tract, and those sugars are absorbed and contribute to high blood sugar.
  4. Read ingredient and nutritional content labels before purchasing a food product.

As you work to eliminate sugar from your diet, remember to eat plenty of non-starchy veggies, low-sugar fruits, protein (from sources such as tofu, poultry, eggs and fish), healthy fats, nuts and seeds.

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