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XI No.13 - Sunday December 2 - Saturday December 15, 2012


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
The Wellness Column By Anchan Vegetarian
 

Vegetables and their benefits

After taking a closer look at fruits and their benefits over the last 2 issues, let’s talk about vegetables and their benefits. Is it really that important to eat them?
Green leafy vegetables are arguably one of the richest sources of nutrition and have numerous health advantages, including cancer prevention and detoxification.
It is no secret that greens are good for the body but surprisingly, despite their large number of nutritional advantages, they are one of the most under-consumed foods in the average person’s diet in the West. When living in Chiang Mai, it is certainly easier to eat plenty of greens, yet I see too many tourists and foreign residents eating unhealthy food on a daily basis, hardly changing their eating habits from back home. With such an array of available vegetables, already turned into delicious stir fried dishes or soups, this is a shame and seems like a wasted opportunity. There is such a wide variety of green vegetable with different textures and tastes that including one or more as part of a balanced diet need no longer be a point of contention. They can easily be incorporated in recipe favorites, are inexpensive and can even be grown easily in your very own garden, even in pots on your balcony.
But what is it that makes leafy green vegetables such a veritable super food? One reason is the rich assortment of nutrients that can be found in them; vitamins A, C, E, and K feature heavily in salad greens, kale and spinach while many of the B vitamins can be found in broccoli, bok choy, mustard greens and many other varieties of leafy green vegetable. These same vegetables also contain an abundance of phytonutrients and phytochemicals such as zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene; all valuable chemicals which protect cells from damage.
Green leafy vegetables also contain high levels of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, calcium and even Omega-3 fatty acids, which serve to maintain eye health, aid in digestive regulation, increase bone strength and boost the immune system.
So what can leafy greens do for my health issues, both prevention wise as in support to any healing process? weight loss, cancer prevention, anti-aging qualities and even bone strength are some, just to name a few - the health benefits of leafy green vegetables are many in number.
Due to their high fat and water-soluble antioxidant content, green leafy vegetables are one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Flavonoids, carotenoids and the rich fiber content help in the elimination of harmful carcinogens and toxins, while quercitin, a photo nutrient, also contains many antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. Studies have shown that eating two or three servings of green leafy vegetables per week significantly lowers the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease and prevent cataract and general degeneration of vision.
Perhaps one of the most appealing benefits of leafy vegetables is their low calorie and carbohydrate content and low glycemic index, which make them an ideal food to facilitate weight loss and maintain long-term weight management. Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet increases the intake of dietary fiber which in turn regulates the digestive system and aids in bowel health and weight loss. These properties are also advantageous for those suffering from type-2 diabetes.
The vitamin K content in dark green leafy vegetables provides a number of health benefits including: aiding in the production of osteocalcin, a protein that aids bone growth; protecting bones from osteoporosis by retaining calcium, and helping to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
The following are but a few examples of green leafy vegetables that can easily be incorporated into the most particular of diets.
-Bok Choy - a Chinese white cabbage rich in vitamins A and C and in calcium and dietary fiber
-Spinach - sweet in flavor and high in vitamins A and K, iron and foliate
-Broccoli - grows with florets and crunchy stalks and is rich in fiber and a number of vitamins
-Collard greens - mild in flavor with a high content of vitamins A, C and K
-Lettuce - contains foliate and vitamins A, C and K
So head out to the markets and get yourself a green basket of health, save the sausages for another day.
 


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Vegetables and their benefits

 

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