Vegetables refer to the edible parts of plants, which are usually their seeds, fruits, roots, or leaves. Vegetables are a staple food worldwide. They are also fundamental to modern agriculture. Since vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients, most health enthusiasts recommend that a person should have a daily intake of them. A balanced and rotating diet of different varieties of vegetables is one of the best ways to source nutrients from your food starting at a young age.
Nutrients in Vegetables
Vegetables are full of important nutrients that an individual needs such as minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. These nutrients give lots of essential health benefits to the body. Vegetable provides the following nutrients:
- Potassium. It maintains healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include potato, tomato, white beans, spinach, and lentils.
- Dietary fiber. It reduces unhealthy cholesterol and improves satiety. Dietary fiber also lowers heart disease and improves your digestion. Leafy greens are typical sources of dietary fiber.
- Folate. It is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function
- Vitamin A and C. Vitamin A maintains eye and skin health and protects you from infections. Vitamin C on the other hand helps boost your immune system and keep healthy cholesterol levels.
- Protein. Protein assists in energy metabolism and cellular processes, and also defends the body against disease via optimal immune function.
Health Benefits of Vegetables:
Vegetables also offer many other health benefits like:
- Improved Digestive Health: Vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, a kind of carbohydrate that helps your body digest food. Researchers have shown that fiber can improve vitamin and mineral absorption in the body, which could boost energy levels.
- Lower Blood Pressure: There are various green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard that have potassium. Potassium helps your kidneys filter sodium out of your body more efficiently, which can reduce your blood pressure.
- Lower Risk of Heart Disease: Green leafy vegetables have vitamin K which is believed to prevent calcium from building up in your arteries. This may lower your risk of arterial damage and helps prevent lots of heart health complications in the future.
- Diabetes Control: Vegetables are mainly high in fiber needed for optimal digestion. They have a low glycemic index which may result in a slow increase of blood sugar after a meal.
Ways to Incorporate Vegetables in Your Diet
Experts recommend eating a varied diet of vegetables regularly to maximize their nutrient potential. Vegetables are a versatile food that can be roasted, steamed, and mixed into a stir-fry. They are an essential part of cuisines worldwide.
Here are some ways how you can incorporate vegetables into your diet:
- Make a vegetable melt by adding mushrooms, asparagus, and peppers to toasted cheese bread
- Fry vegetables with oil in a wok with tofu or chicken to make a delicious stir-fry
- Create a fresh Mediterranean garden salad with sweet peas, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and peppers
- Roast your tomatoes in the oven with olive oil, basil, and parmesan cheese
- Cook peppers, onions, and zucchini together for a vegetable kabob meal
- Try a mixed salad with cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts