Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eat your veggies!

It's almost summertime and you know what that means...time to start thinking about fresh veggies from your local produce stand. Find your favorite veggie in the list below and see how it can make you happier and healthier with its many, many vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, and other delicious goodness!

-Good source of: Folic acid, vitamin B complex (such as niacin, B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid), vitamins C and K, copper, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus.
-Artichokes contain about 14% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber.
-How it helps: Artichoke can decrease your "bad cholesterol" or LDL levels, fight against free radicals* (known to cause infectious disease), and increase your level of red blood cells, and may help bone formation.

-Good source of: Dietary fiber, folates, vitamin A, vitamin B-complex (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, and pantothenic acid), vitamin E, and vitamin K, and calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus minerals.
-Only 13 calories per half a cup, or 20 calories in 5 spears.
-How it helps: Decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, may help prevent irritable bowel syndrome, fight against and remove free radicals* from your body, helps limit neuron damage in the brain (such as in Alzheimer's patients), and can help control blood pressure and heart rate and increase red blood cell production.

Bell pepper
-Good source of: Vitamins A, B-complex (such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin), C, and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium.
-Only 23 calories per half a cup, chopped.
-How they help: May reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL), remove free radicals* from your body, and help keep your skin, organs, blood vessels, and bones healthy.

Broccoli (one of my recommended "super foods")
-Good source of: Phyto-nutrients, vitamins A and C, folates, and omega-3 fatty acids (in the flower heads), and minerals such as calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus.
-Only 15 calories per half a cup, chopped.
-How it helps: Broccoli is simply awesome! It fights against many diseases such as prostate, colon, breast, pancreatic, and urinary bladder cancer, helps maintain good vision, and rid the body of free radicals.*

Brussel sprouts
-Good source of: Dietary fiber, flavonoid anti-oxidants, vitamins A, B-complex, and K, and minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
-Only 19 calories per half a cup.
-How they help: Protect against vitamin A deficiency, bone loss, iron deficiency anaemia, prevent against Alzheimer's and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and, colon and prostate cancers, and remove free radicals* from your body.

-Good source of: Vitamin A and carotenes (convereted to vitamin A in the liver), vitamin B-complex (folic acid, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid), carotenes. Beta-carotenes is the big one here.
-Only 30 calories in one regular-sized carrot.
-How they help: Carrots can help protect against skin, lung, and oral cavity cancers, help vision and sperm production, reduce the number of disease-causing free radicals*, and may help fight and destroy pre-cancerous cells in tumors.

-Good source of: Phyto-chemicals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.
-Only 25 calories in 1/6 of a medium-sized head.
-How it helps: The phyto-chemicals help fight prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers, while the vitamins rid the body of free radicals*(in turn helping fight against cancer) and help the body metabolize protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

-Good source of: Vitamins A, B-complex (folic acid, riboflavin, and niacin), K, and minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.
-Only 15 calories in 2 medium stalks.
-How it helps: Used in weight loss regimens due to its high fiber content, promotes healthy mucus membranes, skin, and vision, increases bone mass, and maintains healthy blood pressure. Its leaves contains essential oils that are used in remedies to help combat nervousness, osteoarthritis, and gouty-arthritis conditions. Its seeds can help in breast milk secretion. Also helps in removing free radicals*, protecting against lung and oral cavity cancers.

-Good source of: Potassium, vitamins A, C, and K.
-Only 8 calories per half a cup of sliced cukes, or 30 calories in one medium-sized cuke.
-How they help: Help reduce blood pressure and heart rate, remove free-radicals* from your body, and help build strong bones.

-Good source of: Fiber, vitamin B-complex (pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin, and niacin), and the phyto-chemicals known as anthocyanins.
-Only 10 calories per half a cup, cubed.
-How it helps: In a study done at a university in Brazil, eggplant was shown to reduce high blood pressure. Anthocyanins have been shown to have potential effects in fighting aging, cancer, inflammation, and neurological diseases.

Green beans
-Good source of: Dietary fiber, vitamin A, folates, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and vitamin C, and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
-Only 25 calories in 3/4 cup, cut.
-How they help: Due to their many minerals and vitamins, green beans are excellent at removing free radicals* from your body. Due to their high levels of folate, they help prevent neural-tube defects in offspring when eaten before and during pregnancy.

-Good source of: Phyto-chemicals, flavonoids, vitamins A, B-complex, C, K, and many minerals such as copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
-Recognized for its nutrition as early as Greek and Roman times.
-How it helps: Fights against prostate and colon cancers, promotes healthy skin and vision, strengthens bones, strong in anti-oxidants and helps remove free radicals*, reduces blood pressure and increase red blood cell production.

-Good source of: Vitamins A, B-complex (thiamin, B-6, and riboflavins), C, K, folates, and phyto-nutrients and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
-You can get 247% of your daily vitamin A from 100 grams of lettuce.
-How it helps: Lettuce is know to fight against lung and oral cancers, iron-deficiency anemia, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's, and osteoporosis.

-Good source of: Phyto-chemicals, chromium, vitamin B-complex and vitamin C.
-Only 32 calories per half a cup, chopped, or 45 calories in one medium-sized onion.
-When the bulb is crushed, cut, or simply disturbed, the phyto-chemicals allium and Allyl disulphide convert by enzymatic reaction to a powerful compound known as allicin.
-How it helps: Allicin is known to reduce cholesterol, fight cancer, and lower blood sugar levels in diabetics (also assisted by the chromium found in onions). It's also beneficial in increasing blood vessel elasticity, reducing chance of coronary disease, vascular disease, and stroke.

-Good source of: Vitamin A, B-complex, C, and K, and folic acid, and minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc and manganese.
-Only 59 calories per half a cup.
-How they help: Peas may lower the risk of stomach cancer, lower the chance for type 2 diabetes, as well as assist in fighting infection and removing free radicals.*

-Good source of: Dietary fiber, vitamin B-complex (vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid and folates), vitamin C (in the skin), and essential minerals such as iron, manganese, copper and potassium.
-Only 58 calories per half a cup, chopped.
-How the help: Helps prevent colon cancer, keeps blood sugar levels regular, keep LDL (bad) cholesterol low, and help fight against free radicals.*

Spinach (one of my personal favorites, and I can see why it was Popeye's, too!)
-Good source of: Iron, dietary fiber, vitamins A, B-complex (B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, folates, and niacin), C, and K, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc, and flavonoids lutein, zeax-anthin, and beta-carotenes, and omega-3 fatty acids.
-Only 7 calories in one cup.
-How it helps: Promotes red blood cell production, removes free radicals*, maintains eye health, strengthens bone mass, limits neuronal damage of the brain (found in Alzheimer's patients), helps control blood pressure, regulates growth and development, promotes sperm generation, and is said to fight against osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, prostate cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Sweet potatoes (another one of my recommended "super foods")
-Good source of: Dietary fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, complex carbohydrates, vitamin B-complex (pantothenic acid, B-6, thiamin, and riboflavin) and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. You can find vitamin C, folates, vitamin K, and potassium in the leaves.
-They have the highest amount of vitamin A and beta-carotene among any of the root vegetables.
-Wow, sweet potatos are LOADED with good stuff, and only at 100 calories per medium-sized potato!
-How they help: Vitamin A and beta-carotene help keep your mucus membranes and skin healthy and your vision good. Beta-carotenes fight against lung and oral cancers. B-complex vitamins help metabolize protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Tomatoes (another of my personal favorites)
-Good source of: Dietary fiber, vitamin A, flavanoids alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene and zea-xanthin,  xanthins, and lutein, vitamin C, potassium, and small amounts of B-complex vitamins such as folate, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin.  Essential minerals such as iron, calcium, and manganese can also be found in tomatoes.
-About 25 calories in one medium-sized tomato.
-How they help: The antioxidants found in tomatoes have been scientifically proven to help fight cancer such as colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors. They also help control blood pressure, remove free radicals*, maintain healthy vision, mucus membranes, skin, and bones. They may also help in fighting against skin cancer.

-Good source of: Dietary fiber, folates, vitamins A, B-complex (thiamin, pyridoxine, and riboflavin) and C, and minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.
-Only 31 calories in a medium-sized zucchini.
-How they help: Protects against colon cancer, prevents neural tube defects in the fetus when consumed before and during pregnancy, reduces blood pressure, helps remove free radicals*, and promotes healthy aging. Also used regularly in many weight loss programs.

*Free radicals are unstable molecules that are looking to attach themselves to other molecules in your body tissue. Among other ways, they are generally created through metabolism, food consumption, stress, and even environmental factors such as pollutions, cigarette smoke, herbicides, and radiation. When they attach themselves to other molecules happens, they can cause cellular or even DNA damage. If not removed, they can cause cancer, promote a quicker aging process, and help develop other types of autoimmune diseases.

Notice that just about every veggie listed above helps in removing free radicals, so, as your mother always said, eat your veggies!


  1. You forgot to mention that Kale is the most nutrient dense food per calorie and it has more iron per calorie than beef. Kale is like the king of the dark leafy greens. Kale also has anti-inflammatory properties. Its in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, so all the benefits of that, plus some! My favorite vegetable.

    Spinach is right up there, in that it also has a large amount of vegetable protein (relatively).

    Onions, another amazing anti-inflammatory.

    Some other non-veggies that are good compliments: Mushrooms! White mushrooms are an aromatase inhibitor and help regulate hormone levels. Men with lowered testosterone numbers or elevated estrogen numbers, or that are on testosterone replacement therapy can benefit from these as it prevents the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

    1. Meant to say, great article! I eat a massive amount of vegetables every day (yes, I eat meat too) and I credit that to my overall health and well being. For a ton more info on the way that I eat, check out the TED talk by Dr. Terry Wahls

  2. That's great added info about kale! People tend to stick to what they are comfortable with because they either liked it or hated it as kids. It doesn't fit most people's "comfort zones" or have a level of familiarity with them like lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, or carrots. Kale is one of those veggies, like asparagus, brussel sprouts, and artichoke, that a lot of people (myself included) don't eat enough of because we never ate it as youngsters. Trying new things and creating variety in food, just like in fitness, is absolutely essential.

    Thanks for the input on that leafy green super veggie! I might just have to go buy some for this weekend...

    1. Agreed. So many people are afraid to try new grassy things, but aren't afraid so put something that was produced in a lab in their bodies. Me included. I'll take a photo of my lunch salad today and comment with it, so you (and other people) can see how I manage to get my calories in with mostly veggies.

      Brussel sprouts: Roasted or grilled with some olive oil, salt, and pepper? Perfect. I used to hate these things, but only ever had them boiled from frozen.

      Asparagus: I grill it, but if I want it raw for a salad or whatever, I shred it with a cheese grater.

      Artichokes: Awesome! I grew up eating them roasted. Breaking the leaves off and scraping the meet away from the more fibrous parts, then eating the hearts. Thats a childhood favorite.

      Beets: HATED beets as a kid. Now? Pickled, roasted, grilled, anything other than boiled. They last in storage quite a long time if you store them correctly, and are usually CHEAP. They look a little scarey, but are easy to prepare (parboil for 30 seconds to peel them), and the greens are delicious as well! They're a little high in Sugar but as a pre workout meal or post workout recovery? Awesome. If I think of anymore I'll chime in again, and will reply later with my lunch photo.

    2. OH! Kale. If you want to ease your way into it, cut the leaves off of the woody stem (I eat the stem in my salads, but for this, cut them out and compost or use in soup), lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, drizzle olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a bit of black pepper (or cayenne, if you like it hot) and bake them at 375 for about 15 minutes or until they turn crispy and brown at the edges. You can thank me later.

      You can also sautee it or generally prepare it as you wood spinach, or just eat it raw!