Vegetables are Death Defying Super Foods
Written by Kim McLaughlin
Most people have been told since they were kids that it’s important to eat your veggies. For me, that meant forcing down some sort of soft, mushy, steamed broccoli and carrot concoction. Let’s just say veggies were never a great part of any meal for me. I’m fairly positive that that’s where my love for meat, meat, and more meat comes from. Meat is easy to prepare ahead of time and store in the fridge while vegetables can get mushy and weird when prepared ahead of time. It turns out, however, that Mom and Dad may have been onto something: Veggies ARE, in fact, EXTREMELY important, it turns out.
Depending on what source you’re using, the recommended daily amount of vegetables we should be consuming ranges from at least 2 cups per day to an entire punch bowl full of fresh leafy greens. The World Health Organization recommends 400g of vegetables per day . The 400 g should be broken up into 5-7 servings a day. To give you an idea of what you would be looking at, one serving of vegetables (about 80g) would be:
– two to three spears of broccoli
– three heaping tablespoons of shredded cabbage
– one-third of a cereal bowl of shredded carrots
– three sticks of celery
– five spears of fresh asparagus
– four heaping tablespoons of cooked curly kale
– one large handful of sugar snap peas
– eight Brussels sprouts
– 3 heaping tablespoons of cooked spinach
To get your full minimum 400g serving of vegetables, you would need to mix and match 5-7 of these single servings. Essentially, we should be eating a LOT of vegetables throughout the day; almost all of us probably have room for improvement.
Vegetables contain vitamins, nutrients, and phytochemicals that can help to regulate blood pressure, effect disease-related molecular processes, stimulate the immune system, promote healthy bone-growth and leave us feeling full for long periods of time . All of these things have positive effects on our lives and our life expectancy.
In fact, a recent study conducted by the Heath Survey for England studied the risk of death for 65,226 people 35 years or older from 2001 – 2013. They adjusted for age, sex, social class, education, BMI, alcohol consumption, previous medical ailments, and physical activity and found that vegetable consumption, at any age, can reduce a person’s risk of death by up to 42% . That means you are almost twice as likely to die at any age by any means if you are not consuming vegetables! The study gets even more specific when it points out that consuming at least 525 grams of vegetables a day or more can reduce the risk of cancer by 25% and heart disease by 31% .
If you are like me, you are sure to include some sort of vegetable or combination of vegetables in the meals you have throughout the day but we should always be looking for ways to consume more of these death and disease fighting super foods. The benefits are astounding. It turns out, while my parents may not have gotten very creative with the inclusion of tasty vegetable dishes in my diet, they were right. It IS important to take in a huge amount of these.
Time to find some delicious vegetable recipes to experiment with to make this task a little more enjoyable!
Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A, et al. J Epidemiol Community Health 2014; 68:856-862.
Hyson D. Fruits, Vegetables, and Health: A Scientific Overview, 2011. Produce for Better Health Foundation, 2011. <http://www.pbhfoundation.org>