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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Eat Your Vegetables

Mom Was Right: Eat Your Vegetables! The Surgeon General recommends that we get 3 to 5 servings of vegetable group items per day. A serving size equates to 1/2 cup of chopped raw or cooked vegetables or 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables. In your serving selections it is important to include a variety of vegetables because different vegetables provide different nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of vitamins and minerals. Items such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, deep yellow vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are all great sources of vitamin C, carotenoids, potassium, B-vitamin, folate and iron. Broccoli and brussel spouts get high marks for carotenoids, vitamin C, folate and fiber. Asparagus, peas, and snow peas also provide these nutrients but not quite as well as the previous vegetables. Perhaps the greatest benefit we derive from eating vegetables are those related to general health. Eating vegetables rich in beta-carotene seems to lower the risk of cancer including colon, lung and perhaps bladder, esophagus, larynx, mouth, pancreas, and throat. The danger of heart disease may be reduced through the soluble fiber in vegetables as well as flavonoids. The prevalence of the mineral potassium seems to lower the chance of having a stroke, while the dark green leafy vegetables contain a carotenoid called lutein that appears to lower the chance of blindness from deterioration of the retina. Researchers have yet to establish a definite cause and effect between eating vegetables and health risks but anything we can do to increase our quality of life and nutritional needs is a positive step for the future. We need to take better advantage of the huge selection of fresh vegetables available to use from fresh markets, farmers markets and the vast number of grocery stores. Many people complain about the preparation time but eating raw vegetables is even better for you and most are easily transportable! Starting this week try eating at least one vegetable-filled dinner per week. Have a dark green leafy lettuce salad with tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, etc.; peas and/or carrots; squash or a squash casserole; and a baked potato (eat the skin too for iron, fiber and folate!). You may want to include some cornbread and legumes for added protein. With spring and warmer weather just around the corner, getting started on a “more veggies” program now will only become easier and more satisfying as summer produce becomes available. So get cooking and “Eat Those Veggies!”

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