Are you eating your veggies? If not, you should be
Were you told as child to “eat your veggies, they are good for you”? Perhaps you weren’t allowed to leave the table until every last pea was eaten? For many, meal times became a war zone in which child battled vegetable. This is unfortunate, especially if it has tainted your adult view of eating your veggies. If you still find eating veggies challenging, hopefully this article will convince you to make a change. You would seriously be missing out on so many amazing benefits if you don’t. Vegetables are low in calories and carbs, high in fibre and contain almost all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs for vibrant health.
Helps with weight loss
Vegetables, especially those of the leafy green and cruciferous variety, are very low in calories and carbohydrates. They are therefore well suited to the low carb lifestyle and will certainly facilitate weight loss. It is very difficult to burn body fat if insulin levels are high. When meals consist predominantly of low carb, plant-based foods, your insulin levels will drop. This will allow body fat to be released from fat cells to be burned as fuel. The result? A slimmer, healthier you. You can, for example, bulk up your meals with low carb vegetables and salads. This will fill you up enough that you won’t need to rely on rice, potatoes and pasta for satiety. Pour some healthy fat, like butter, over your veggies to further assist with feeling satisfied after a meal, as well as to absorb all the fat-soluble nutrients contained in the vegetables. The combination of low carb veggies, healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein at each meal will help you to naturally eat less and further assist with losing weight.
Facilitates good gut and hormonal health
If you suffer from constipation, then you know all about the cramps, bloated belly and the misery that accompanies not being able to poop at least once a day. Besides the discomfort, it also means that your body is not detoxing efficiently. Adding extra fibre to your meals in the form of veggies can go a long way in restoring regular bowel movements. The fibre from veggies is far gentler on your stomach than wholegrain breads and high fibre cereals. Fibre also helps to maintain hormonal health by facilitating the excretion of oestrogen (via the bowels) that the body has used and no longer needs. Basically, you want to use it and lose it. Recycling/reabsorbing oestrogen can lead to oestrogen dominance and its accompanying symptoms of low libido, menstrual irregularities, water retention, breast tenderness, weight gain or weight loss resistance as well as irritability and depression.
Boosts your immune function
In addition to the obvious role vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from veggies play in driving our bodies metabolic processes, vegetables are also critical for a strong immune system that can fight back against disease and illness. Researchers have discovered that a large portion of our immune system actually resides in the gut. Should the gut microbiome be damaged by antibiotics or a poor diet, the immune system becomes weak, leaving us very vulnerable to disease and illness. Nourishing our gut flora is therefore, a very important part of staying healthy. So how do we do this? Eat more veggies, especially those high in prebiotic fibre like asparagus, artichokes and garlic. Prebiotic fibre passes through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and remains undigested as our bodies are not designed to break it down. When it reaches the colon, the fibre is fermented by the gut microflora and becomes food for the beneficial bacteria that live within the gut, further strengthening one’s immune system. The consumption of fermented veggies, like kimchi and sauerkraut, is also incredibly beneficial for your microbiome health since they are packed with probiotics.
Combats the effects of aging
Your beauty regime doesn’t have to cost a fortune in lotions and potions. All you need for a natural, youthful complexion is to eat a diet rich and diverse in vegetables. Studies have concluded that carotenoids, a type of phytonutrient found in vegetables like carrots, red capsicum, pumpkins, squash and green leafy vegetables, can give your skin a wonderful “glow”. Vegetables also contain powerful antioxidants that will protect your skin cells from premature ageing, as well as from UV damage.
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli are effective in the fight against cancer. They are bursting with antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and scavenge the free radicals that lead to cancer cell growth. Green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps to oxygenate the blood and improves circulation. It also reduces DNA damage, fights infection, is anti-carcinogenic and detoxifies the body of heavy metals. All excellent reasons to fill your plate with delicious greens.
How much do we need?
By choosing to eat a wide variety of veggies you can definitely take your diet to a whole new level. You might need to get out of your comfort zone and venture into unchartered territory though. Perhaps you have never bought a fresh artichoke because you have absolutely no idea how to cook it. Google is a wonderful tool. Use it next time you come across a ‘foreign object’ in the produce aisle. Start exposing your taste buds to new textures and flavours. If your goal is weight loss, consider sticking to “green” list veggies that are low carb and eat as much of them as you need to feel satisfied. A good rule of thumb for your main meal is to fill 70% of your plate with veggies and salads so that you consume a minimum of 2 cups of veggies per day. You are encouraged to include veggies and/or salads at your other meals as well. It is very difficult to overeat low carb veggies. It definitely is the case of “more is better”. Those following a Paleo style eating plan, who are more tolerant to carbs, can enjoy even more diversity in their veggie choices. Go for it and eat all the colours of the rainbow.
Raw or cooked?
Certain veggies are best eaten raw while others need heat to bring out the best in them. Researchers have found that cooking carrots actually increases the amount of beta-carotene your body is able to absorb. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in your body which is essential for good vision and healthy skin. While it is fine to eat raw tomatoes in a salad for example, it is also good to make a point of cooking them occasionally. The lycopene in tomatoes, which is a powerful antioxidant, becomes more bioavailable when it’s cooked. They key is not to get too overwhelmed. You can’t go wrong if you include both raw and cooked veggies into your diet, while aiming for diversity of plant type and colour.
You are now, hopefully, motivated to make the eating of more veggies a goal for 2017. Once you see and feel the benefits, it won’t be any effort to continue into 2018 and beyond. Be prepared to experiment and try new things. You might discover something new that you absolutely love.
Article written by Nicky Perks for Lose It magazine (Volume 18)
Posted on August 23, 2017, in Primal 101 and tagged benefits of vegetables, eat your vegetables, gut health, how to fight disease, raw or cooked?, strengthen your immune system, vegetables are anti aging. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.