There is more and more evidence from the scientific community that vegetables have increasing importance in our lives. Not only are they full of vitamins and enzymes, the fiber they contain makes them invaluable for intestinal health.
Dr. Everett Koop, the former US Surgeon General has deemed certain vegetables in the top ten list for nutritional content. These vegetables are packed with health providing goodness and you should add as many of them to your daily regimen as possible.
In number one spot is broccoli. Broccoli picked fresh, contains high quantities of Vitamin C, twice as much as an orange, in addition to soluble fiber. It also contains a tongue-twister of a compound called glucoraphanin. When you chew broccoli, the glucoraphanin is converted to sulforphane by the enzyme myrosinase. Sulforaphane is a strong anti-cancer compound. Broccoli also contains almost half as much calcium as the equivalent weight of milk. It also has 19 times less fat than chicken and 49 times less fat than beef, along with various minerals and other vitamins.
The number two vegetable for nutrition is Popeye’s favorite, spinach. Spinach contains about 22 percent of the adult RDA of iron for a 100g serving, quite a high concentration for a vegetable. Like all vegetables, grains and half of the meats that contain non-heme iron, this type of iron totally depends on what’s around it for its absorbability. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron. Heme iron is found only in meats but in smaller quantities. Non-heme iron is absorbed more slowly than heme iron because releasing it from binders and fibers takes time during the digestive process.
The disadvantage with spinach is that it contains high levels of oxalates which bind with the iron, forming ferrous oxalate which the body removes from itself. Oxalates are strong influences on how much iron can be absorbed from the body.
Besides iron, spinach is also a good source of calcium, again bound by the oxalates, allowing about 5 percent of the calcium to be absorbed. Vitamins A, C and E, folic acid and antioxidants are also found in spinach which help the body fight cancers, particularly colon, lung and breast. Nutrients in spinach support healthy red blood cell formation and growth, healthy cell division and protein metabolism.
Spinach is also high in lutein, a very important eye antioxidant, which prevents macular degeneration in older adults. Lutein also supports healthy skin, cardiovascular health and helps prevent heart disease. The fiber in spinach is an important contributor to colon health. Age related memory loss is slowed or prevented by eating spinach.
Surprisingly, in a survey done in the UK in 2002, Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable there, but according to scientists, they are number 3 on the list for nutrition. Brussels sprouts contain lots of Vitamin A, C and folic acid. Also up there are high amounts of potassium, fiber, protein and folacin. It is somewhat unusual for a green vegetable to be so high in protein but it is definitely to our benefit. Brussels sprouts contain disease fighting phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. They are particularly good for pregnant women as they are particularly high in folic acid, unlike pickles and ice cream. Folic acid is essential for proper cell division and is needed for DNA synthesis, both important for developing fetuses. A highly valued component in Brussels sprouts called glucosinolates help prevent colon cancer and help fight liver cancer.
Lima Beans are next on the list. You take the beans out of the shells and discard the shells. Lima beans are very high in tryptophan which helps with mood and sleep. They are also very high in molybdenum, manganese and dietary fiber, and is a good source of protein, folate, iron and potassium. The high fiber content helps lower cholesterol and helps prevent the blood sugar from rising to high in people with diabetes or other blood sugar issues. The folate found in lima beans helps reduce the level of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine can cause heart attacks, strokes or circulatory issues. Lima beans have another heart healthy ingredient, magnesium, which if you don’t have enough can also cause heart attacks.
Green Peas are number five on the list of nutritious vegetables. They are rich in Vitamin K which is extremely important for bone health. Vitamin K1, the type of Vitamin K found in green peas, activates a protein called osteocalcin which helps bone absorb calcium. Without osteocalcin, calcium to bone absorption would be impossible.
Green peas are also rich in Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate and dietary fiber. The folic acid and Vitamin B6 work together to reduce homocysteine levels to protect heart health. Research has shown that homocysteine can affect bone health by obstructing collagen cross-linking. The B vitamins in green peas are important components in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbs. The iron in green peas helps to build strong blood.
As you can see vegetables have important roles to play in your health. It is important to cover half your dinner plate with vegetables to get the number of servings to promote great health. Eating vegetables for lunch and snacks are a really healthy choice, too. The next five vegetables on the top nutrition list are asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and carrots. Make it a habit to load up your plate with nutrition packed veggies and experience vibrant skin and health.
Jean Perrins is a former nurse and admitted health nut who writes health articles for a number of on-line and off-line sources. As an avid researcher, she knows how to squeeze every ounce of health in a body. To access more of Jean’s articles, go to http://www.drinkalkalineionizedwater.com.
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