We now know that mother was right. Vegetables are good for us! They are an important part of a healthy diet.
They are also a must for a healthy retirement. No doubt about that!
Why are they so necessary for your good health?
Let’s review some key facts.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), they are an important source of vital nutrients which your body needs to function effectively.
Most vegetables are low in fat and calories, and are important sources of Potassium, Fiber, Folate, and vitamins A and C.
Potassium helps to maintain healthy heart function, and blood pressure.
Dietary fiber helps to lower Cholesterol, and preserves regular bowel function.
Folate helps in the production of red blood cells, and Vitamin A nourishes your eyes, encourages healthy skin, and decreases the likelihood of infections.
Vitamin C also helps in the healing process, and promotes healthy teeth and gums.
Vegetables will be your ally should you decide to lose weight. They are low in calories.
Experts believe that vegetables also help to prevent some chronic diseases, and even some cancers.
Impressive isn’t it!
You probably know which foods are vegetables, and which are not. However, let me refresh your memory about just a few.
The list includes sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beet greens, soybeans, Lima beans, kidney beans, spinach, corn,lentils, zucchini, and cauliflower.
Let’s not forget lettuce, broccoli, rhubarb, Swiss chard, squash, turnips, garlic, onions, collard greens, and mushrooms.
This is just a few of a seemingly endless list!
VEGETABLE DO’S AND DON’TS
*Do shop for those in season to get the best quality and flavor.
*Don’t cook them over high heat…heat breaks down the key components, and the nutrients may be lost.
*Do wash them thoroughly, and brush them before cooking, and eating.This is crucial to get rid of pesticides, and any residual dirt or pests.
* Do choose firm, crispy vegetables without wilted or loose leaves.
* Don’t buy more than you can store, and use within a safe time period.
* Do not refrigerate potatoes.
* Do store canned vegetables in a cool dry place.
PROTEIN IN VEGETABLES?
Yes, some vegetables are good sources of protein.They include Shiitake mushrooms( dried), lentil, beans, soy, green cauliflower, and kale.
However, unlike meat, they do not have vitamin B-12 which is necessary for health.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there are at least 10,000 types of protein in your body.
Your body breaks down the protein that you ingest into a substance called amino acids.
Lack of protein can lead to growth failure, weak immune,heart and respiratory systems.
There is an ongoing debate about vegetable protein, versus animal protein.This would be a good topic to discuss with your doctor, or health professional should you decide to follow a vegetarian diet.
My personal preference is to have protein from both animal and vegetable sources…with more of the vegetable kind, because vegetables have lower amounts of saturated fat, and sodium.
WHAT ABOUT THE TASTE?
I have come to love vegetables over the years. This is great because I eat them several times each day.
One of my favorite ways to eat vegetables, is to roast several of them together in the oven. I encourage you to try roasting potatoes, onions, garlic, and zucchini with just a little oil, salt and black pepper. They are delicious!
Have you tried carrots with curry? Or asparagus cooked with lite butter?
Another favorite of mine is a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, with just a touch of salad dressing.You may add boiled eggs, cheese, or anything else you like!
The USDA recommends that women 31 -50 years old, eat 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. Women 51 plus years old need 2 cups.
Men 31-50 years old need 3 cups daily, while men 50 plus need 2.5 cups daily.
These recommendations are only for those whose activity level is average ( less than 30 minutes of exercise daily). If you are more active you are allowed to eat larger amounts.
Are you a vegetable lover? Please share your thoughts, recipes, or comments.