Vegetables are the All-Star complex carbohydrate and Good Decisions encourages you to eat as many of them as you like! That’s right, absolutely no restrictions with vegetable consumption. “Even potatoes?” you ask. Yes! Well, mostly yes. Even though you shouldn’t consume potatoes every day, they actually contain quite a bit of nutrition. Some sixty different phytochemicals and vitamins have been found in the skins and flesh of 100 different wild and commercially grown potatoes. Some varieties even rival the phenolic (antioxidant) content in broccoli. Surprising, right?
Eat the Rainbow!
It’s important to eat a variety of vegetables, because nutritionally, each vegetable offers something different and colors often play a part in that. Bright orange vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant substance that helps protect cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. The deep blue-red pigments of beets and eggplant have anti-cancer properties. Cooked cabbage can lower cholesterol, while sauerkraut and artichokes feed the good bacteria within us. For men, tomatoes are powerful in preventing prostate cancer. Mushrooms eaten in conjunction with chemotherapy have been shown to increase its efficacy. I could go on and on!
Every brightly colored vegetable gives your body something different, so don’t rely on potatoes and carrots as your staples. While both have healthful qualities, it’s much better to eat a variety.
One of the most nutritious categories of the veggie rainbow are greens, especially the leafy kind. They are powerhouses of antioxidants and phytonutrients and are also rich in chlorophyll, which helps to alkalinize your blood (processed foods and sugars make it acidic).
The top leafy greens are spinach, kale, swiss chard, romaine, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and broccoli rabe. Experiment with adding these greens to salads, stirfrys, smoothies or side dishes. Your body will thank you!
Can’t afford to buy everything organic, but still want to avoid pesticides and other unhealthy substances? No problem. Visit the Environmental Working Group’s website (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/) for a list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables to avoid, and the “clean fifteen” to look for. It’s helpful to know that certain vegetables like spinach and tomatoes are among the most highly sprayed crops, so it’s in your very best interest to opt for organic.
The important thing to remember about vegetables is that you must eat them! Good Decisions recommends incorporating vegetables into every meal and as snacks between meals. Some people say you should only eat raw vegetables. Others say cooking increases their digestibility. I say, just eat them—any way you can! The more vegetables you eat, the better.