Vegetables, love them or hate them their benefits to our health are endless and now that summer is here the selection and variety are vast. Here is everything you need to know to rock your veggies!
“Eat five to stay alive!” Not so fast. Did you know that some research now says that pushing for ten or even eleven servings of fruit and veggies daily might be a better goal? Whatever your beliefs about your diet, adding an extra serving or two of vegetables can’t hurt your health. After all, veggies are a much better option than processed foods. And, they can be grown right outside in your own garden!
Not only is nature’s bounty to your table full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, but it’s super hydrating as well.
Which veggies should you eat in the heat? Take a look at the list below for ones that are all over 90 percent water content, with cucumbers the winner at 96.7 percent!
Need more reasons for upping the veggies? How about the fact that they contain almost all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, are high in fiber, and you can essentially eat as many as you want – try that with chocolate chip cookies!
The fiber in your veggies will further help your waistline by keeping you regular and for a bonus, will also lower your cholesterol and help control your blood sugar. If you’re looking for fiber, then artichokes would be at the top of your list with over 10 grams. Peas (8 grams), broccoli (5 grams per cup) and brussel sprouts (4 grams) are also good choices.
Think this is just summertime chatter? According to Psychology Today our decisions about what goes on our plates can also affect our mental health. Deficiencies in folate and B vitamins are linked with higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia. Leafy greens like lettuce, mustard greens, collards, spinach, and kale are plentiful this time of year and are plentiful in folate. Turnip and broccoli (available year round!) have lots of folate too!
Even the lowly mushroom can help with mood. Shitake mushrooms contain the important mineral, selenium, which the body needs to help ward off depression and anxiety.
Raw, steamed or cooked vegetables are super versatile and can be easily added to any summer recipe. A spiralized or riced vegetable can take the place of a heavier carbohydrate like pasta. And, there isn’t any need for special gadgets with most grocery stores now providing the convenience in the fresh or frozen sections. Have we just about squashed (pun intended) all your excuses for not eating your veggies?!
Another good way to amp your veggie servings is to sneak them into smoothies (think frozen spinach here), substitute greens for wraps instead of bread, turn them into fries, and bake with them.
Too much to absorb in one blog post? Here’s a handy-dandy chart compiled by Food Day which calculates the nutritional value of a variety of vegetables by adding the percentage of recommended dietary allowance for seven nutrients, fiber, as well as lutein and carotenoid content. Honestly, this chart itself is on our Top 10 lists of great internet finds.
Are you totally into veggies now? Here’s another way to get more vegetables onto your plate – grow them! Imagine how many more servings you would eat if you all you had to do was walk out to your garden?
If you are new to vegetable gardening think about what vegetables are in a simple salad and grow that!
And, finally, don’t be afraid to eat your veggies if they have been exposed to pesticides, just wash them – remember, no excuses!
Super-Simple Veggie Wash
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 cup cold tap water in a spray bottle
Mix, shake well, and apply to your produce. Rinse with tap water before cooking or serving.
Leafy Green Wash
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3 cups water