Mar 8, 2012, 12:45 PM
Eating vegetables provides health benefits - people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
• Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases.
• Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes.
• Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain cancers, such as mouth, stomach, and colon-rectum cancer.
• Diets rich in foods containing fibber, such as fruits and vegetables, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
• Eating fruits and vegetables rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and may help to decrease bone loss.
• Eating foods such as vegetables that are low in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Food sources of the nutrients in bold can be found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Click on the nutrient name to link to the food sources table.
• Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, or cholesterol.)
• Potassium rich nutrients Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibber, foliate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
• Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans, and split peas.
• Dietary fibber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fibber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulitis. Fibber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
• Foliate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy should consume adequate foliate, including folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
• Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
• Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A and essential fatty acids from cell oxidation.
Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
People are often told to eat their vegetables, and there’s a good reason for this: there are numerous health benefits of vegetables which make them a very important part of the human diet. Eating between four and eight one cup servings a day confers a number of benefits which cannot be obtained from other food sources.
Vegetables contain a number of vitamins and minerals which are beneficial to the human diet. Things like potassium, vitamin C, foliate, and vitamin A, among many others, can be found in abundance in vegetables. These vitamins and minerals are needed by the body on a daily basis, and they also help the body stay healthy so that it can prevent or cope with disease and injury. Pregnant women and people with certain chronic diseases also appear to benefit from an increased intake of dietary minerals and vitamins.
Other health benefits of vegetables can be found in the phytonutrients which they contain. These nutrients do not appear to be immediately necessary to the human diet, but they seem to confer some benefits such as protection against cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, some cancers, kidney disease, stroke, and bone loss appear to be at least partially preventable with a high intake of vegetables, as evidenced in numerous dietary studies.
Studies have also suggested that eating whole foods appears to be more beneficial than consuming supplements. The health benefits of vegetables cannot be replaced, in other words, by eating vitamins, because vegetables have complex trace compounds which cannot be copied, and because the vegetables themselves appear to help the body metabolize useful vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables are also high in fibber, which can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and some cancers while regulating digestion. Fibber can also be found in whole fruit. Fruit and vegetable juices lack fibber, although they contain many of the vitamins and minerals found in whole fruit. The health benefits of vegetables can be obtained from raw or cooked vegetables, with frozen vegetables being a good option when fresh vegetables are not available.
Something to keep in mind when thinking about the health benefits of vegetables is that it is a good idea to eat a rainbow of colours. Vegetables of different colours have varying levels of vitamins and minerals, and by eating a range of colours, people can ensure that they get the full array of nutrients they need. Carrots, for example, are high in vitamin A, while dark leafy greens have lots of calcium. Carrots or broccoli alone will not provide complete nutrition.
What Are the Health Benefits of Vegetable Juices?
Vegetable juices detoxify the body and give the immune system a boost from the concentrated amount of nutrients they provide. It may be difficult to eat vast amounts of raw vegetables every day, and drinking a glass or two of their juices is more convenient. Vegetable juices are also a source of enzymes that aid indigestion.
Vegetables are low in fat and calories, so any diet based around them should result in weight loss. Some of the better ingredients are the ones that use up more calories to consume and digest than they contain. Examples of these kinds of vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, carrots and any dark green vegetables.
One of the differences between using a vegetable juicer to make fresh juice and the juices bought in stores is the amount of enzymes in the former compared to the lack of them in the latter. Enzymes are destroyed during the process of pasteurization that store-bought juices go through, which is why they are not as healthy as homemade vegetable juices. For this reason, it is always better to prepare fresh juice at home whenever possible.
All vegetables can be juiced, but care must be taken with some, as it may be too potent to drink too much of it. Carrot juice is very popular not just for its taste but for its health benefits. It energizes, cleanses and heals as it boosts the immune system, and helps in the treatment of various ailments such as anaemia, cataracts, ulcers and asthma. Carrot juice is fine to consume in large quantities but is often mixed with other vegetable juices such as celery, cucumber, spinach and tomato.
Beet juice is recommended for problems with the digestion like constipation. It is also good for strengthening the bones, purifying and cleansing the blood, and benefiting the liver, kidneys and arteries. It is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E and minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. It is best to mix it with other vegetable juices like apple, carrot and celery, as it is quite powerful and so should only be consumed in small quantities. Parsley and watercress juices also help with liver and kidney problems.
Broccoli juice is full of the same vitamins as beetroot juice, but with the addition of vitamin K. A well-known cancer fighter, broccoli has abundant antioxidants and fiber. Cabbage cleanses the internal system and is a wonderful antiseptic. Popular with dieters because of its reputation as a slimming agent, cabbage juice also helps reduce high blood pressure.
What Are the Best Vitamin C Juices?
Vitamin C juices are a tasty and nutritious way of accessing this vital nutrient. While most people only think of orange juice and other fruit juices when considering beverages with high vitamin C content, some vegetable juices should also be included in good sources of vitamin C. Some of the best juices for this nutrient include green juices, such as those made with cabbage and broccoli, as well as kiwi juice, grapefruit juice and juices made with lemon.
Regularly consuming foods and beverages with vitamin C helps in avoiding an ascorbic aciddeficiency. A few of the many symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include dry skin, lowered immunity against disease and infection, nosebleeds, and bleeding, inflamed gums. Individuals who smoke cigarettes and those who do not eat a healthy diet high in vitamins, including vitamin C, are at risk for developing a deficiency and may benefit from vitamin C juices. While serious vitamin C deficiencies are rare in most parts of the world, mild deficiencies are not.
Available at local grocery stores and health food stores, and very easy to make at home, juices high in vitamin C help keep optimal levels in the body. Some of the best juices for doing so are vegetable juices, which also offer other vitamins and minerals, such as beta-carotene and vitamin E. Vegetable vitamin C juices and smoothies can be made at home by blending any combination of fresh green peppers, broccoli, cabbage, leafy green vegetables and Brussels sprouts together.
Besides orange juice, other vitamin C juices include those made with strawberries, mangoes, pineapple and cranberries. All have high vitamin C content and are easily found in food stores or may be blended at home. Juices made with fresh lemons are also among the best sources of vitamin C.
Not only do vitamin C juices help individuals avoid a mild or severe deficiency, but they also are useful in guarding against cancer and heart disease and can greatly assist with healthy aging. The antioxidant properties inherent in vitamin C help guard against cell oxidation while keeping the immune system strong and healthy at the same time. The best juices are the ones with the highest vitamin content with a palatable taste that individuals at risk for deficiency or disease are likely to drink on a daily basis. Most find orange juice to be a front runner in this category, but by experimenting with different juice varieties and blends, a personal favorite is easy to find.
Essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3, are compounds that have been shown to help reduce inflammation. However, the body is not able to produce its own fatty acids so you need to take it in through your diet. The anti-inflammatory properties of kale can help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Aside from essential fatty acids, kale also contains 45 different flavonoids. Quercetin and kaempferol are just two of the most beneficial antioxidants found in kale. These compounds both have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Another one of the most important kale benefits, is high content of antioxidants, including flavonoids and carotenoids. It has been shown to help ward off at least five types of cancer: ovarian, colon, breast, bladder, and prostate cancer. The cancer risk-lowering benefits of kale are also attributed to isothiocyanates that are commonly found in this vegetable.
On top of that, kale is rich in antioxidants that help eradicate free radicals – most common cause of cancer. In fact, due to kale’s high antioxidant content, it is often included in many detoxification procedures. The ITCs available in kale can help regulate detox down to the genetic level.
Like most other calciferous vegetables, kale is rich in dietary fiber that has been proven to help cut blood cholesterol levels. Fiber can help reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol in the body.
Although raw kale does reduce cholesterol in the blood, it is suggested that kale be cooked by steaming to increase its cholesterol-lowering benefits. When steamed, the fibrous content of kale does a better job binding together bile acids in the GI tract. The binding process produced by kale allows fast and easy excretion of bile acids, and results in lower blood cholesterol levels.
Kale contains eye-health promoting compounds lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein has been shown to help protect the eyes against macular degeneration. According to statistics, macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over
It has been shown that one cup of kale contains at least 90 mg of calcium, which makes it great for the prevention of osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and rickets. Take note that Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium, so it is best to take it with vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon.
With all these kale health benefits, you certainly want to add kale in your diet. In order to get these fantastic health benefits, it is recommended that you include cruciferous vegetables in your regular diet at least 2-3 times per week, with serving size of 1-1/2 cups. But as they always say: the more, the better!
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Author Dr Hassan Azadeh Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia and a Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology.