Veggies Delightful

Health Benefits of Vegetables

People who eat fruit and vegetables as part of their daily diet have a reduced risk of many chronic diseases. USDA's MyPlate encourages making half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables are important part of healthy eating and provide a source of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C. Options like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and garlic provide additional benefits, making them a superfood!

Potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form healthy red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida during fetal development.

Eating Vegetables Provides Health Benefits

  • The nutrients in vegetables are vital for health and maintenance of your body.
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce risk for stroke, cancer, heart diseases and type-2 diabetes.
  • One to four cups of vegetables are recommended each day, depending on how many calories you need.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Website. Washington, DC. Why is it Important to Eat Vegetables? Accessed March 8, 2015.

Eat the Right Vegetables to Fight Belly Fat

By Erin Palinski-Wade from Belly Fat Diet For Dummies

Vegetables can help to shrink belly fat and promote weight loss in so many great ways! One of the greatest benefits of vegetables when you're trying to lose weight is that they provide you with a great amount of volume and satiety with few calories.

Think about it this way: If you were hungry and ate six plain crackers, would you feel full? Probably not. What if you ate 6 cups of raw, sliced cucumbers? You would feel a lot more satisfied. And what if you knew that 6 cups of cucumbers contains the same number of calories as those six crackers? Amazing!

That's one of the benefits of vegetables: You can eat plates full of them without taking in many calories.

Most vegetables on your Belly Fat Diet plan are unlimited. Strive to take in at least the minimum recommended amount of vegetables each day. If you don't eat enough vegetables, chances are you'll feel hungrier and eat more of another food group, which will contain additional calories that can make it more difficult to lose weight.

Get your antioxidants

In addition to helping you feel full with few calories, vegetables also help promote weight loss by being rich in many powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phyotochemicals. Some of these nutrients, such as catechins and anthocyanins, by themselves can help increase your body's ability to burn fat. But as a whole, antioxidants help to decrease oxidative stress in your body.

Your body needs oxygen to live and to perform many essential functions. However, high concentrations of oxygen in your body can actually cause damage. The way you obtain energy to live and perform day-to-day functions is by taking the fuel you put in your body (food) and combining it with the air you breathe (oxygen).

This metabolic process provides your body with energy, but it also creates byproducts, such as free radicals, that can be damaging to your body’s cells.

Oxidative stress is essentially the stress placed on your body from the free radicals produced during digestion and metabolism as well as the environmental toxins your body is exposed to, such as pollutants in the air, cigarette smoke, and so on. Poor dietary habits, such as diets high in simple sugars and trans fats and low in antioxidants, can increase the oxidative damage to your cells as well.

Increased oxidative stress can increase inflammation in the body. The good news is that antioxidants are warriors that fight off the free radicals that can attack and damage your body's cells. Because vegetables contain incredibly high amounts of antioxidants, the more you eat, the more you increase your defense mechanisms against these attackers, cutting down on cell damage as well as inflammation. And when inflammation decreases, so does belly fat!

Fill your plate with color

Every color vegetable contains a different type and amount of antioxidants. If you only eat one or two colors, you may be missing out on some potent belly fat and disease fighters.

Orange and yellow vegetables

The orange and yellow group is terrific for your skin, eyes, and heart. Some research also suggests this group may fight off some cancers. Beta carotene is plentiful in this group. This compound has been shown to promote eye health and protect skin from sun damage, and it may even delay cognitive aging.

Beta carotene is also a precursor for vitamin A, meaning it's a vitamin that can help neutralize the damage of free radicals in the body, helping to fight off oxidative stress and inflammation. This group of veggies is also rich in vitamin C, which can help decrease stress hormones in the body, helping to prevent storage of belly fat.

Examples of orange and yellow vegetables include

  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yellow and Orange Peppers
  • Yellow Tomatoes

Green vegetables

The green vegetable group contains high levels of vitamins A and C, which, just like in orange and yellow vegetables, can help decrease oxidative stress and cut down on the stress hormones in the body that can store belly fat. In addition, green leafy vegetables are a fantastic source of folic acid, which plays a critical role in protein digestion and metabolism.

Because adequate folic acid helps ensure that protein is metabolized properly, it may also help your body's insulin levels remain stable. Spiking or rapidly fluctuating insulin levels can trigger fat storage, especially in the belly. So consuming foods rich in folic acid may help to better stabilize insulin levels, decreasing the storage of belly fat.

Examples of green vegetables include

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

White vegetables

The white group is colored by pigments called anthoxanthins, which contain disease-fighting chemicals like allicin. This chemical may help reduce overall cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as fight off inflammation in the body.

Examples of the white vegetables include

  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips

Red and purple vegetables

The red coloring of these vegetables is an indication they're high in the phytochemical lycopene. This nutrient is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to protect your heart (by decreasing the buildup of plaque in your arteries) and may even protect against cancers like prostate cancer.

Examples of red and purple vegetables include

  • Beets
  • Eggplant
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red Onions
  • Red Peppers
  • Tomatoes

Starchy vegetables: Good for you in limited quantities

Many vegetables are essentially unlimited because they provide so many health benefits and so much volume with so few calories. Starchy vegetables are the exception to this rule, however. These vegetables are still loaded with healthy and belly-shrinking benefits, but they're higher in carbohydrates and calories, so they can't be consumed in unlimited quantities.

Eating too many of these starchy vegetables may slow down your weight loss progress. So for your Belly Fat Diet plan, these particular vegetables fall into the starch category, which is the same food group that contains breads, cereal, and pasta. (The starchy veggies have an equivalent amount of carbohydrates per serving as these bread products.)

The vegetables that fall into the starch category are

  • Beans and Lentils
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Plantains
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, Pumpkin)
  • Yams

Cruciferous vegetables are the gold standard in immune-boosting vegetables.

Although all vegetables have nutrients and some protective powers, for these vegetables, it's off the charts. Cruciferous vegetables have a special chemical composition: They have sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent flavors. When they're broken down by biting, blending, or chopping, a chemical reaction occurs that converts these sulfur-containing compounds into isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs prevent and knock out cancer and have infinite proven immune-boosting capabilities. They contain antiviral and antibacterial agents that keep you disease free.

Adding the following cruciferous vegetables to your daily plate is like taking an anticancer pill:

  • Arugula
  • Beet Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard Sprouts
  • Mustard Greens
  • Radishes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Turnip Greens
  • Watercress.

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