Vegetables are an important part of your diet and provides a wide range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, that is important to your health. Latest research suggest that vegetables offer protection against several chronic diseases like obesity, type II diabetes if consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Cruciferous vegetables are powerful anti-carcinogens and the leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, brussels sprouts and kale can be eaten freely. These are foods that are self-limiting, i.e. you cannot get addicted to them. You will know when you had enough.
Brightly coloured vegetables contains powerful phytochemicals, antioxidants and nutrients that support eye and brain health and rid your body of free radicals
Photograph by Anna Pelzer via Unsplash
For optimal health, you should consume vegetables with every meal. However, just because it’s a vegetable, doesn’t mean it’s healthy in big quantities.
Types of Vegetables
E.g. a small potato (170g) have the same amount of carbohydrates than approximately 400 g of spinach.
There are two main types of vegetables. Starchy and non-starchy vegetables. The key distinction between these two categories lies within their carbohydrate content.
Starchy vegetables have around 3-4 times more carbs than non-starchy types, with about 11-23 g of carbs in every ½ cup. For this reason, if you are severely overweight or obese, or have diabetes, you might want to limit your intake of starchy vegetables to ½ cup (cooked) per day.
Non-starchy vegetables on the other hand are much lower in carbohydrates – only 4-6g of carbs in 70-90 grams.
Processing of Vegetables
The cooking method plays an important part in the nutritional value of the vegetables. Prepare your vegetables at home and use cooking methods like baking, boiling and steaming while you limit unhealthy condiments. Many of the condiments in the supermarket are very high in sugar and unhealthy fats.
It’s also best to limit your intake of highly processed and fried vegetable products like French fries, potato chips, prepared TV dinners, tinned vegetables, as these will be high in unhealthy fats and highly processed salt.
How do I tell the difference between the veggies?
Starchy vegetables are often referred to as “below ground” vegetables whereas non-starchy vegetables are referred to “above ground”. Although not ALL starchy vegetables grow below the ground. You will often hear that you can consume as much as “above ground” vegetables as you like, due to its ‘self-limiting’ nature.
You will normally find them in separate areas in the produce section.What also sets starchy veg apart from non-starchy is, their texture. Most starchy vegetables have a similar texture to a potato and are usually too hard to eat, unless it’s cooked.
From providing essential vitamins and minerals to fighting disease, it’s clear that including vegetables is crucial for good health.
What Changes can you implement today?
Eat at least one cup of non-starchy vegetables at each meal. Yes…it includes breakfast. Ensure that you are getting a wide variety of veggies in your diet to take advantage of their diverse health benefits.
Support your local farmers so that you can buy local and organic as far as you can.
Starchy veggies can be cooked in bulk to save some time in the kitchen. Non-starchy veggies can be diced, portioned and frozen for the week.
If you order vegetables at a restaurant, ask for the condiments on the side.
IN SUMMARY, don’t dismiss vegetables as a whole group. Don’t put off eating them. Practice eating them until it’s a habit. Not only will your healthy benefit now, but also in the future.
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