In the Beginning There Was Food – Part 4
Welcome back! We’re happy you’ve chosen to return to follow along with us in our journey to a more balanced and nutritionally sound diet and lifestyle. Today, we’re going to talk about the Vegetable category on the Food Pyramid. We’re going to see why they are so good for us and why we should incorporate them into our meal plans.
Vegetables – A Great Way to Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases
The veggie category in the USDA Food Pyramid is an interesting one. I know, eating all your veggies at dinner time was always drummed into our heads as we were growing up. We’ve all heard our moms tell us how important it was to eat your spinach. Well, there is excellent reason for those encouragements from long ago. Let’s look at some of them.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet is said to reduce the risk for stroke and as well as other cardiovascular diseases, may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, may protect against some cancers (mouth, stomach, colon-rectum cancers), may reduce the risk of kidney stones and may prevent bone loss as we age. And, of course, eating veggies can give you fewer calories per cup then some other foods you might consume and, thereby, help with losing or maintaining a healthy body weight.
How About the Nutritional Value of Vegetables?
Well, let’s really look at this part. We know that, for the most part, veggies contain fewer calories and are lower in fat than many other foods. Usually the sauces, seasonings or dressings that we use add these other components to the mix. They can also add cholesterol to the fat and calories. Veggies are major sources of potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin C.
The Potassium Connection
Diets that are potassium-rich may help maintain a healthier blood pressure. Some sources of this mineral are sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products such as paste, sauce and juice, beet greens, soy beans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans and split peas.
More Dietary Fiber
The dietary fiber contained in vegetables offer the same health benefits and nutritional components mentioned above as well as providing an excellent “full” feeling to reduce the calorie intake of our diets.
Vitamins A, E and C
Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy as well as helps to protect against infections. Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A and essential fatty acids from cell oxidation. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy and aids in iron absorption.
In our next post, we’ll be talking about the Fruit category of the Food Pyramid and all the good reasons why we need fruits in our meal plans. Please plan to return for the next stop on our journey to a well-balance and nutritionally sound lifestyle.