The word is in…our mothers were right! Vegetables are actually good for us. What a news flash!
Historically, the barrier preventing most of us from leaving the dinner table as a child was always that small portion of vegetables that had the hue of something that usually comes out of our face rather than put into it.
But why are these foods so important and how did mom always know best?
Our mothers may not have known the exact reason why they were telling us to eat these seemingly tasteless foods (Let’s face it, they don’t taste like French Fries!), but I’d like to give the new Mom’s (and older Mom’s) some ammunition next time your kids (or big kids) won’t eat their veggies.
Phytochemicals (pronounced “fight-o-chemicals”, pun intended) are powerful compounds found in plants that have been shown to reduce the risks for age-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Just how important are these phytochemicals? Diets high in fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables consistently prove to lower incidence of disease. They serve as a low calorie high nutrient source of antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory (arthritis, joint pain), anti-allergic (allergies anyone?), antiviral (anyone have a cold, flu?), and anticancer properties.
Here are a few tips to help increase the amount of phytochemicals in your diet:
• Be sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so you get a wide range of phytochemicals in your diet (the more variety in color the better!).
• Don’t be drawn in by media reports of certain foods that are better for certain types of diseases or illness. All fruits and vegetables have something to offer for health.
• Phytochemicals give color to foods and the darker the color the more concentrated the amounts of phytochemicals. Blueberries, raspberries, broccoli, red cabbage, and beets are just a few examples.
• Don’t worry too much about serving size, especially for vegetables. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables (optimum would be nine or ten servings daily), so if you are eating two or three per meal, you are doing great!
So go thank mom for doing her best to keep you healthy! Eat your fruits and vegetables everyday and enjoy a healthy new year!