You know you should be eating enough vegetables. But I’m guessing you aren’t! 84% of Americans do not consume the required 4.5 cups of vegetables per day. But I guarantee if you understand why it’s so vital to eat more vegetables, you’ll be more motivated to do so.
Continue reading to learn more about the health advantages of vegetables.
Vegetables are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals while being low in calories and carbohydrates. They’re also high in antioxidants, which assist to neutralise dangerous free radicals. This reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, two factors that can lead to heart disease and diabetes. The nutritional value of vegetables varies depending on the type. The greatest way to get a variety of nutrients is to eat a rainbow of colours of vegetables.
Vegetable Health Benefits
Your grandmother was correct when she advised you to eat more vegetables. The health advantages are numerous. Here are a few of the most significant:
Obesity and insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few, are all associated to chronic inflammation. The Western diet (heavy in fat, sugar, and processed foods, and low in fibre) is thought to contribute to chronic inflammation. The traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, fatty fish, and healthy fats, has been demonstrated to reduce inflammation in the body. Vegetables play a significant role in this diet.
Choose: Kale, spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard, for example, are high in antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C, all of which help protect cells from damage. When possible, use organic, locally grown vegetables that are in season.
Improves health of the gut microbiome
Our gut microbiome is extremely important to our overall health. Overall health, immune system, metabolism, energy, body weight, mood, food choices, neurological system, heart health, diabetes risk, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, mental health, allergies, and so on are all regulated by it. A healthy gut has a balanced bacterial population as well as diversity. Modern lifestyles and the Western diet (heavy in fat, sugar, processed foods, and low in fibre) are thought to contribute to the loss of beneficial bacteria and overall variety. Fiber-rich foods, particularly certain forms of fibre and resistant starches known as prebiotics, help to keep our gut microbes in check. Prebiotics can be found in abundance in many vegetables. In just a few days, eating healthy plant foods can change your gut bacteria for the better!
Pick: a variety of vegetables Jerusalem artichokes, onions, chicory, garlic, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and kale, as well as mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, radishes, and sea vegetables such as seaweed, spirulina, and other marine algae, are all high in prebiotics. For a complete list, see my prior post on prebiotics. Sauerkraut and probiotic-rich fermented vegetables are also good choices.
Aids in weight management
This isn’t a surprise! Vegetables aid weight loss through numerous mechanisms:
-It’s low in calories and carbohydrates. A cup of rice has 240 calories and 45 grammes of carbohydrates, while a cup of cauliflower rice has 25 calories and 5 grammes of carbohydrates.
-High in fibre and water, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.
-Fill your stomach with a lot of food to keep you feeling full.
-Prebiotics in the fibre feed the “healthy” bacteria in the gut. Certain bacteria can help you lose weight, while others can make you gain weight.
Choose: a variety of cooked and raw veggies, particularly non-starchy vegetables.
Decreases risk of type 2 diabetes
According to new research, the more plant foods you consume, the lower your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. This is thought to be because of the antioxidant activity, which helps to lower insulin resistance and/or inflammation. Participants who ate a “healthy” plant-based diet, which includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, had a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the study, which comprised nine nutrition studies (including over 300,000 people). Fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other useful components can be found in these foods. Keep in mind that “healthy plant-based diets” were included in this study. While vegetables were a key component, they were far from the only one. Other research has linked magnesium-rich vegetables to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Choose a variety of veggies, especially leafy greens that are high in magnesium.
Decreases risk of heart disease and stroke
Vegetables contain a wide range of plant components that benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol, improving blood vessel function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. According to this study, eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and the chance of premature death by 31%.
Choose a variety of vegetables to reap all of the heart-health benefits. Green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and green and yellow veggies are all important (such as green beans, carrots, and peppers). Carotenoids, which serve as antioxidants and free your body of potentially toxic substances, are abundant in these foods. They’re also high in fibre and vitamin and mineral content. Kale contains omega-3 fatty acids as well. Vitamin K and nitrates are abundant in leafy green vegetables, which can help lower blood pressure and enhance vascular function.
– Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol.
– Okra, eggplants, carrots, asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are high in soluble fibre and can help decrease LDL cholesterol.
Lowers blood pressure
The pressure of blood against the arterial walls is known as hypertension, or high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels over time, resulting in heart disease, renal disease, and stroke.
Because it causes no symptoms and can go undiagnosed — and untreated — for years, hypertension is known as the silent killer.
It has been proved that eating veggies (and fruit) can help decrease blood pressure.
Fiber, vitamins, and minerals like potassium and magnesium provide the benefits. Potassium is particularly significant because it counteracts the detrimental effects of salt, lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet includes a lot of vegetables (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). After two weeks on the DASH diet, your systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading) can drop by 8-14 points. The DASH diet calls for 4-5 servings of vegetables each day.
Choose potassium-rich leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, arugula, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, spinach, beetroot greens, and Swiss chard.
Improves bone health
Vegetables are very vital for bone health. They are a good source of calcium as well as magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C, all of which are vital for bone health. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables can help the body become more alkaline. Acid-forming meals including meat, fish, eggs, and cereal can cause the body to lose calcium. Alkalizing foods are found in plants. This link could explain why fruits and vegetables are thought to be good for bone health. Dietary acidity has a minor negative effect on the skeleton, but even a minor effect can have a big influence over time. Reference: Keep in mind that if you don’t consume dairy (or fortified nut milks), meeting your calcium needs through plants can be tough – but not impossible. Furthermore, while spinach and beetroot greens are high in calcium, they also contain oxalates, which inhibit calcium absorption.
Dark green leafy vegetables high in vitamin K include kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and Brussels sprouts.
Tomato products, spinach, and other potassium-rich foods
Spinach, beetroot greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and other magnesium-rich foods
Red and green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and Brussels sprouts are all high in vitamin C.
Promotes eye health
Lutein and zeaxanthin are potent antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable chemicals. The consumption of foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Kale, parsley, spinach, broccoli, peas, and carrots are all options. Squash and red peppers are also good sources.
Enhances mental health
Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay is the acronym for the MIND diet. It’s a hybrid of DASH and the Mediterranean Diet. The study, which was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, looked at over 900 people aged 58 to 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. It found that participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had a level of cognitive function equivalent to a person 7.5 years younger – Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 35 to 53 percent by following the MIND diet.
Choose: The best cognitive advantages come from six or more servings each week – notably kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, and other greens, which are high in vitamins A and C and other minerals.
Vegetables are arguably one of the most powerful natural “medicines” you can consume. Add it to every one of your daily meals for these health benefits!