The Importance of Vegetables
It’s a well-known fact that including vegetables in your diet is a great way to improve your health. However, most people do not understand why vegetables promote good health, or how they can have beneficial effects on the body’s general functions. The importance of vegetables cannot be overemphasized, since they should ideally be included in basically every health-related diet. Becoming familiar with the reasons why vegetables are good for you can be a great way to motivate yourself to make them an integral part of your diet.
Health Benefits of Vegetables
Due to the wide variety of vegetables that are suitable for human consumption, the nutritional content of vegetables can vary greatly. However, in general, vegetables contain varying portions of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and fiber. In addition to this, an important component contained in most vegetables is phytochemicals, which have been cited as having extreme beneficial effects on human health. While the antioxidant properties of certain phytochemicals has been scientifically proven, the claim that some phytochemicals can act as anticarcinogenic agents is still subject to much debate.
As a general rule, it is nearly always best to consume a vegetable while it is fresh. Exposure to high amounts of heat (such as cooking) can lower the nutritional value of many vegetables, since it breaks down key components that provide vitamins. Fresh vegetables can be added to salads, dips, sauces and can even be juiced to make a highly nutritious beverage.
Choosing Fresh Vegetables
When purchasing fresh vegetables, it is important to choose wisely. It’s best that you learn to recognize the signs that a vegetable may be overripe, rotten or otherwise damaged. Some vegetables may not display any evidence of damage on the outside, so it is essential that you only purchase your vegetables from a trusted source. Some fresh vegetables are treated with pesticides, antibacterial and antifungal chemicals in order for them to stay fresh longer. Some of these chemicals can be detrimental to your health, so it is best that you wash each vegetable thoroughly before preparing it for consumption.
Including Vegetables in your Diet
Adding vegetables to your diet is a very effective way to improve your overall health. There are many ways that you can incorporate vegetables into your meals. For example, if you are planning a family meal of steak and potatoes, try adding a salad of fresh greens as a starter course. For lunchtime, you can add fresh spinach and roma tomatoes to a ham sandwich to create a more nutritious meal. It’s even possible to add fresh tomatoes, garlic and onions to your spaghetti sauce without overcooking them to the point where they lose their nutritional value. To do this, chop up your fresh vegetables after your sauce has just started to simmer, and add them to the pot. The vegetables will be slightly softened by the heat, but will still retain much of their nutritional benefits. These are only a few of the ways that you can make fresh vegetables an integral part of your diet. For more ideas, try searching for healthy recipes that include fresh vegetable ingredients.