Eating vegetables regularly can have many health benefits. They are one of the most natural foods and contain different vitamins, minerals and thousands of other plant chemicals known to provide health benefits. Along with all the many disease reducing benefits, eating vegetables can also help control weight. Being low in calories enables us to eat lots of vegetables without consuming excess energy; the high fibre content also helps fill the stomach faster, limiting the total amount of food consumed. Vegetables are also low in sodium, so they help reduce water gains. Sodium is present in virtually all processed foods; it causes the body to hold water within the interstitial areas of the body. It has been estimated that many average people may be holding up to 5 pounds of additional water caused from a high intake of sodium.
Vegetables act as nutritional power-house to man. It contains vitamins and minerals which are good sources of dietary fibre. They are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories and contain no cholesterol. Vegetables have phytochemicals. This is a group of compounds that may help prevent chronic diseases such as hearth disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
We enjoy a wide variety of vegetables because; different types of vegetables provide different nutrients. For example, asparagus is high in vitamin C and Foliate. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. And chicory is a good source of calcium, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamin B-6. Also, eating a variety of colorful vegetables not only ensures that you get more nutrients, but also, helps make your meals and snacks more interesting.
TIPS ON SELECTING, STORING AND SERVING VEGETABLES:
- Look for brightly colored vegetables. The best items have blemish-free surfaces and regular characteristic shapes and sizes.
- Buy only the fresh vegetables you plan to eat within a few days. Long storage time reduces nutrient level and taste.
- Sort through and discard any damaged items. Leaves or greens should be crisp and not wilted.
- Choose in-season vegetables. The closer you are to the growing season, the fresher your produce, and the better it tastes. Enjoy packaged vegetables when out of season.
- Throw away the produce you have kept for too long. Discard vegetables that are moldy or slimy, smell bad, or are past the "best if used by date".
- Store fresh vegetables according to their types. Place root vegetables, such as potatoes, and yams in a cool dark place, store other vegetables in the refrigerator crupper drawer.
- Don't wash vegetables before storing. Make sure all produce is dry before storing.
- To serve; wash vegetables thoroughly to remove dirt and pesticide residue before cooking. If possible, use a small scrub brush to help clean potatoes, cucumbers or other vegetables that have skin before you eat.
- Leave edible peels on vegetables whenever possible. E.g., potatoes.
- Enjoy many vegetables raw. Use quick cooking techniques.