Vegetables – The Unliked Heroes
Veggies are an important part of everyone’s diet. They contain dozens of important nutrients and have loads of dietary fiber. And just by getting your daily quota of five to nine servings, you help build your body’s immunity to things like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
While everyone knows that they should eat vegetables because they are good for us, it’s not often that we really stop to think about the specific benefits that vegetables provide.
Vegetables enhance your overall health by supporting a strong immune system. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals (vitamins C, B, D and A) and are highly concentrated with pigments like chlorophyll , caretenoids and anthocyanins .
We now know that aging is caused, at least in part, by free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive oxidants that damage your muscles, cells, organs and DNA.
Vegetables are rich in antioxidants that scavenge your body for free radicals and eliminate them preventing them from damaging your muscles, cells, organs and DNA. In fact, not only do vegetables protect you from damage, but they also repair damaged DNA and help reverse free radical damage.
Studies have shown that vegetarians (following a well-balanced low-fat high-fibre vegetarian diet) often have lower incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity and some forms of cancer.
A vegetarian diet tends to be lower in total fat, and vegetarians tend to eat proportionally more polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat compared with non-vegetarians. (Animal products are the major sources of dietary saturated fat).
Vegetarians avoid meat, poultry, game, fish and slaughterhouse by-products such as gelatine and animal fats. The staples of the vegetarian diet are fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts. Most vegetarians eat dairy products and free-range eggs.
- Fruitarians: Avoid all animal products and processed foods.
- Vegans: Avoid all animal products.
- Lacto-vegetarians: Eat dairy products but not eggs.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: Eat both dairy products and eggs.
- Semi-vegetarians: Eat fish and/or chicken but no red meat. They are not officially classed as vegetarians.