Vegetables often seem worthy rather than exciting, but here’s some reasons to eat more veggies every day.
You get a healthy glow
A research study led by Dr Ian Stephen at The University of Nottingham shows that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables gives you a healthier golden glow than the sun. The research, which showed that instead of heading for the sun the best way to look good is to munch on carrots and tomatoes, has been published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour.
Dr Stephen said:
“We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.”
He found that people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin colour, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combating disease. Responsible for the red colouring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, carotenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.
You reduce your chances of having a stroke when you eat vegetables regularly
Revised American Heart Association/American Stroke Association guidelines say:
“Those who make healthy lifestyle choices — such as not smoking, eating a low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables, drinking in moderation, exercising regularly and maintaining a normal body weight — lower their risk of a first stroke by as much as 80 per cent compared with those who don’t make such changes. The preventive benefit increases with each positive change adopted.”
If you’re a man, you reduce your chances of prostate cancer
Eating meat and dairy products may increase the risk of prostate cancer, research by a University of Oxford team suggests. They came to this conclusion in 2008 after they had examined the results of 12 studies, featuring a total of nearly 9,000 men.
If you’re a woman, you reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer
A study in 2008 found eating more fruits, vegetables, and fibre may lead to reduced cervical cancer risk. In the study, women with higher intakes of vitamin A, C, and E had roughly a 50 per cent decreased risk, compared to women who consumed the least. More recent studies from 2010 confirmed the protective effects of vitamins A, C, and E; those who consumed most of these vitamins from food sources had the most protection.
Rich sources of vitamins A, C, and E stem from whole fruits and vegetables. Red peppers, oranges, and cooked Brussels sprouts are very high in vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables containing vitamin E include blueberries, kiwis, broccoli, pumpkin, and tropical fruits like mango. Vitamin A is formed when beta-carotene is consumed and some of the best sources are carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale.
You eat cancer-fighting agents
Broccoli is known as one of nature’s wonder foods and has received a lot of publicity about its anti-cancer properties, but over-cooking can reduce the health benefits. Research (January 2011 issue of Nutrition and Cancer) suggests that if you want to cook broccoli you should steam it for a maximum of two to four minutes to protect both the enzyme and the vegetable’s nutrients. Elizabeth Jeffery, a University of Illinois professor of nutrition, says:
“Broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent — three to five servings a week are enough to have an effect. To get broccoli’s benefits, though, the enzyme myrosinase has to be present; if it’s not there, sulforaphane, broccoli’s cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, doesn’t form.”
You look after your heart health
Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, says:
“source of protein in our diet has an important impact on our health, and we can’t consider red meat, chicken, fish, beans, and nuts to be interchangeable …This should not be surprising because when we eat red meat we get a large dose of saturated fat, cholesterol, and a form of iron that can override our control mechanisms. If instead we eat nuts as a protein source, for example, we get unsaturated fats that reduce our blood cholesterol, no cholesterol itself, and lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. … Our research adds to the growing and convincing body of evidence that red meat intake should be minimized or excluded from the diet in order to maintain cardiovascular health.”
You provide your body with easily absorbed calcium
Milk is not the only source of calcium. Eat nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils – these super foods have more than just calcium going for them. See my post on osteoporosis for more on this.
For maximum benefit make sure you eat a rainbow of colour in your veggies. Check out this blog post on how to make great vegan salads that are naturally high in veggies. Read this blog post to see how easy it is to eat a more plant-focussed diet.