By Carol Crenna
WHEN MOM SAID, “EAT YOUR VEGETABLES,” YOU DID.
And you may have learned to love them, and now you eagerly browse farmers’ markets for beets and broccoli, tomatoes and turnips. Or maybe not…
YOU’VE ALSO BEEN TOLD THAT YOU SHOULD EAT “A RAINBOW” OF COLOURFUL VEGETABLES.
This is to get all of the different nutrients that your body needs per day found within the different colours (called phytonutrients) – in green cabbage, purple eggplant, orange yam and yellow bell pepper.
Surveys show that only 20 percent of North Americans get an adequate amount of veggies (eating only 3.5 servings per day instead of 5 to10). Surveys also show that you eat the same few foods over and over again – your favourites – rarely trying anything new.
YOU CAN WIN THE NUTRITION GAME, ONE VEGETABLE AT A TIME.
Scientists are just scratching the surface in finding out what’s in them. They’ve currently found over 2,000 phytochemicals – powerful compounds that make you look and feel more youthful, vibrant, beautiful, healthy and happy (It’s not just about fighting disease!) – in addition to giving veggies their colours and flavours.
YOU KNOW THAT VEGGIES ARE GOOD FOR YOU.
But do you know exactly why you need to eat them, and what each one is good for?
HOW DO VEGETABLES STACK UP?
Few of us know which ones will give the biggest bang for your buck. For example, did you know that there are over 40 different phytochemicals in broccoli, 70 in the herb tarragon and 170 phytochemicals in oranges?
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that a lemon – used to prevent colds and scurvy for centuries due to its vitamin C content – has only 100 milligrams of it whereas a bell pepper has 340 milligrams of vitamin C? Did you know that a cup of kale has 90 milligrams of calcium, half of your daily recommended amount, which is said to be better absorbed than calcium in milk?
Did you know that in a cup of strawberries you get over 3 grams of fibre from the 100 seeds in every berry? Did you know that a cup of asparagus packs 172 micrograms of hard-to-find-but-vital vitamin B12?
To get other vegetable facts check out http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search and www.healthalternatives2000.com/vegetables-nutrition-chart.html.
Mother Nature also gives clues in the look of the vegetables themselves to tell you what’s good for what. For example, a sliced carrot looks like the human eye – the pupil and iris – and we all know that carrots’ beta carotene (with 19,000 IUs of vitamin A per half cup) greatly enhances blood flow to and function of the eyes.
The heart has four chambers and is red, and tomatoes are loaded with lycopene which enhances the heart. New research suggests that dietary lycopene may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, and that women with the highest levels of the antioxidant in their blood have a 34 percent reduced risk of the disease compared to those with lower levels of the nutrient.
SWEET POTATOES ARE THE SAME SHAPE AS THE PANCREAS.
And sweet potatoes and yams are known to assist in healing of the pancreas and stomach. The high content of beta-carotene, vitamin A (24,877 milligrams) and anthocyanins in a sweet potato may also help fight pancreatic cancer. And being fairly low on the glycemic index with lots of fibre, they have a slow, mild effect on blood sugar, regulated by the pancreas.
THE STALKS OF CELERY, BOK CHOY AND KALE RESEMBLE BONES.
These foods target bone strength and replenish the skeletal needs of the body with their high content of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism finds that eating mineral-rich alkaline vegetables can reduce calcium excretion in bones. Reacting to dietary acid (from meat, dairy, grains, sugar), bones are broken down, releasing minerals into the blood to keep it alkaline. Eating potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium decreases “resorption” of bones.
THE SIMPLEST ROUTE TO HEALTH IS TO FEED YOUR CELLS.
Feed them with life-giving nutrients in fresh vegetables. You need 47 nutrients every day to maintain health – 19 vitamins, 13 minerals, 5 phytonutrients, 3 fatty acids, and 7 other nutritional factors. When they’re eaten together in whole foods, these nutrients provide the bricks and mortar to build a strong foundation.
Leave any nutrient out or eat it in insufficient amounts and your body’s foundation strength weakens. So vegge out!