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Everyone knows that vegetables are good for the body, but sometimes just what they do is not exactly clear. To make matters worse, some of the awesome things they do are not widely publicized. Here are four attributes of vegetables, not commonly known, that could perhaps motivate more people to eat them.
Vegetables Fight Bloat– Some people grew up being told that vegetables create bloat, however, most vegetables do quite the opposite. The high levels of fiber in vegetables help to prevent constipation and flush out gastric irritants and waste. They essentially keep things moving in the digestive tract.
Vegetables can also counteract the effects of bloat-causing salt. Most adults in America get almost double the sodium they actually need in a day. The sodium content of one can of soup, or even one piece of bread can be shocking. Vegetables are laden with lots of water and potassium. These help to flush out excess sodium and can also restore the normal fluid balance in a body.
Specific vegetables that can help ease full belly feelings are: cucumber, fennel, both red leaf and romaine lettuce, summer squash and tomatoes. Steamed vegetables will cause less gas than will raw ones. This is because the heat of the steam will break down the fiber which keeps gastric distress down. The heat in your stomach will do some of that work as well, so experiment with both raw and steamed vegetables. Some will just taste better raw, others when they are steamed.
Vegetables Create Glow– The vitamin C, phytonutrients and water in vegetables help in preventing the usual signs of aging by keeping skin supple. With 85 to 95 percent water content, many vegetables keep skin hydrated, reducing wrinkles. The phytonutrients, which are found in every vegetable, prevent damage to cells from environmental toxins, pollution and the sun. Vitamin C is part of the process that forms collagen.
Red and orange vegetables have beta carotene, another skin protector. Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes and other red vegetables, also has protective attributes against damage from the sun. For vitamin C try: bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, potatoes and tomatoes. For more beta carotene eat: butternut squash, carrots and sweet potatoes, like garnet yams.
Vegetables Are Stress Reducers– When moody, tired and stressed-out, it is almost impossible to make the healthiest food choices. Low effort, quick eating, often overeating, become the norm. As this is happening, vitamin C and magnesium, among other important nutrients, are being depleted. It is helpful to remember that, a wide variety of vegetables offer those needed nutrients. Plus, they contain B vitamins, which combat depression and anxiety. The omega-3 fatty acids in many vegetables are known to reduce tension.
Some vegetables have magnesium and potassium, which research has shown relaxes blood vessels, keeping blood pressure down and thereby having a calming effect. Fiber helps to maintain the stability of blood sugar levels, which prevents energy dips and the mood swings that often come with them.
For these many reasons, pretty much any vegetable will reduce stress. Bell peppers, bok choy, edamame, fennel, leafy greens, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, squash and string beans are all particularly excellent sources of a variety of vital minerals and vitamins. By simply adding some these vegetables to omelets, pizzas, sandwiches, soups, tomato sauces and wraps, stress can be diminished.
Vegetables Protect Bones– Because dairy products are high in vitamin D and calcium, they are often the food group that is primarily associated with the bones. Some vegetables, however, have plenty of the bone related nutrients, as well as, magnesium, potassium, prebiotic fiber and vitamin K.
Through research, tomatoes have recently become associated with bone health. A study was done that found when foods high in lycopene were removed from women’s diets, their risk of developing osteoporosis increased.
To increase vitamin K and calcium consume: broccoli, collard greens, green peas, kale, turnip greens and cooked spinach, which has more calcium than raw spinach. For vitamin D, eat a wide variety of mushrooms. To get prebiotic fiber eat: artichokes, asparagus, chard, garlic, kale, leeks and onions.
Eating vegetables does not have to be a chore. There is a wide enough variety available, that there is something for every taste bud. If any of the above are issues that need addressing, experiment to find out which vegetables work. These four little known vegetable attributes are valuable and beneficial. Use them in good health.
By Stacy Lamy