February 14, 2013
Study after study has confirmed that people who eat more vegetables than other folks have a lower risk of developing chronic diseases and stand a good chance of maintaining a high quality of life well into their senior years. From asparagus to zucchini, vegetables offer us a wealth of vitamins, fiber, and minerals, all of which are necessary for our wellbeing. Because our bodies can't stockpile these nutrients, we need to eat a variety of vegetables every day to ensure optimal health. Arecent study by the National Cancer Institute found that Americans are indeed eating more vegetables than they did 25 years ago. Sadly, at least one fourth of those additional vegetables are French fries.
Asparagus contains a special carbohydrate called inulin that is not digested but that helps feed the friendly bacteria in the large intestine. When we consume inulin regularly, these friendly bacteria proliferate, keeping the intestinal tract clear of unfriendly bacteria. In addition, asparagus is an excellent source of glutathione, an important anticarcinogen, and rutin, a substance that protects small blood vessels from rupturing. Asparagus provides vitamins A and C, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. It's also a good source of fiber, the B-complex vitamins, and zinc.
Detoxification contributes to weight loss while helping to prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. Worried about your cholesterol? Broccoli is known to contain a certain pectin fiber that binds to bile acids and keeps cholesterol from being released into the bloodstream. Does diabetes run in your family? At the USDA's Human Research Laboratory, a diabetes expert found that the chromium in broccoli may be effective in preventing type-2 diabetes by maintaining stable blood-sugar levels. Broccoli is also a good source of folic acid, which scientists now believe serves as a defense against Alzheimer's disease. In addition, broccoli has been singled out as one of the few vegetables that significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins C and A, providing detoxifying antioxidants to neutralize dangerous free radicals that could otherwise damage cells and escalate problems with atherosclerosis, diabetic complications, asthma, and colon cancer. In addition, tomatoes supply fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, control blood-sugar levels, and help prevent colon cancer. Tomatoes offer a trio of notable heart-healthy nutrients: potassium, vitamin B6, and folate. In addition, studies in the U.S. and Europe have concluded that lycopene, a phytonutrient found in tomatoes, lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease.6 Tomatoes improve your body's energy production by supplying a bounty of biotin and help maintain bone health by serving as a source of vitamin K.
One of the world's oldest vegetables, cabbage continues to be an inexpensive dietary staple. A member of the cruciferous family, which includes broccoli and kale, cabbage is rich in cancer-fighting nutrients, including Vitamin C, fiber, and two phytochemicals, sulforaphane and indoles. These two compounds help detoxify the body, ridding it of cancer-producing substances, including excess estrogen.