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VEGETABLES

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 9:01 AM

Excerpt from the book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition.” 
By Elson M. Haas, MD & Buck Levin, PhD, RD 
Photo by Nathan Dumlan on unsplash.com 

Vegetables are likely our most important nutritional topic. I believe they should be the primary part of most everyone’s diet. Health and vitality are dependent, I believe, on eating these fresh, nutritious, and vital foods. Fresh vegetables have life force, in fact, the Latin work for vegetables, vegetare, means “to enliven or animate”. 

Most vegetables are high in water and necessary vitamins and minerals and low in fat and protein. Thus, they are a perfect complement to animal protein foods to help supply the needed nutrients that aid the digestion and utilization of those concentrated foods. Most vegetables are predominantly carbohydrates, with important fiber bulk. Vitamins C and A, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron are commonly rich nutrients, along with some B vitamins and other trace minerals. The dark leafy greens, yellow and orange vegetables (such as squash and carrots), and red ones (such as peppers) are all high in beta-carotene, which produces vitamin A in the body. Many of the nutrients may be partially lost when cooking vegetables. Vitamin C and some minerals may dissolve in the water, and the B vitamins may be destroyed by heat and also lost in the water but overall the basic nutrition and fiber remains. 

The positive flavors, may colors, and variety of textures of vegetables are a distinct advantage to those who enjoy natural tastes and aesthetic eating. The low salt and fat content of vegetables, however, tends to reduce their interest for people who have developed a taste for salt and fat. And many times children refrain, often passionately, from the pleasures of vegetables, as their tastes may tend toward sweet flavors and they may oppose the often slightly bitter flavor of the greenery. 

The chlorophyll that is part of most plants, especially high in the green vegetables, has special properties. It is the basic component of the plants’ blood, just as hemoglobin is to the human body. Whereas iron is the focal part in the body, magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule. Thus, many plants have a good magnesium level.
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