The Vegetable Family
Every so often, we hear of yet another medical breakthrough that traces disease prevention back to the humble vegetable. Vegetables provide a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and several types of dietary fibre.
Virtually free of fat, vegetables protect our bodies against disease and also satisfy our appetite without adding a lot of calories.
According to research, that confusing array of odd shapes, colours and flavours can be conveniently grouped into 7 vegetable "families" – each with their own significant health benefits:
• Leafy vegetables such as spinach, silver beet, lettuce and bok choy are usually sources of calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and many of the B vitamins. Green leafy vegetables also provide fibre and folate and the darker the leaf, the richer the supply of these nutrients.
• Root vegetables such as onions reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and strokes through their natural antibiotic action; others like parsnips and radishes are good for healthy bowel movements. A large parsnip contains 25% of a woman's daily fibre requirement with natural sugars for an energy boost
• Starchy root vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are good slow release carbohydrates. Rich in antioxidants, they contain more vitamin E than any other low fat food and are a good source of potassium and iron - boosting energy, promoting a healthy heart and skin and helping to lower blood pressure.
• Stalk vegetables such as celery, asparagus, and fennel are an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre, folic acid, potassium and vitamins B1 and B6. Celery also offers a good source of vitamin B2 and calcium.
• Cruciferous (flower-like) vegetables such as cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli are notably rich in antioxidants.
• Fruit-like vegetables such as capsicum, squash and aubergine, in particular the yellow, orange and red varieties, are rich in beta carotene and minerals like potassium which are essential for good health.
• Pulses or legumes such as beans and peas are high in dietary fibre.
Adults should eat 5 or more serves of vegetables every day. That may sound like a lot but, when spread over a normal day, it becomes very easy to achieve. For example some tomato and onion on toast for breakfast, some salad in your sandwich at lunch and 2-3 serves of vegetables in the evening would provide your daily requirement of vegetables.
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