Auburn, Ala.—You are what you eat. Believe it or not, that is one of the truest statements out there. More than any other factor, a person’s diet has a lot to do with determining his or her lifestyle, as well as health.
Amelia Mitchell with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said vegetables provide essential nutrients for a person’s diet.
Why is it that green vegetables are so beneficial to our health?
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), people who eat more vegetables (which includes greens) and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases,” said Mitchell.
Another commonly asked question about greens is, what types of nutrients do they have in them that makes them so beneficial?
Mitchell said “Leafy greens, such as salad greens, kale and spinach are rich in nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E and K. Broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens are also rich in many of the B-vitamins.”
Dietary fiber from leafy greens also helps with weight loss. It does this by providing a feeling of fullness while containing fewer calories. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate (folic acid), which helps the body form red blood cells. These are just some of the benefits that greens can have on your health.
Still need help getting on board the green veggie train? Good news, according to Amelia Mitchell green vegetables can also be beneficial to physical appearance.
“Leafy greens also contain water, which helps keep you hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair. The vitamin E found in green leafy vegetables work with vitamin C to keep skin healthy as you age,” Mitchell added. “This vitamin also helps protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and may help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections. Vitamin C works by helping to heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C also aids in iron absorption.”
Mitchell mentioned that there is not one particular green that is better for you than another, but that it is important to consume a variety of greens. She also suggested that there are no supplements that can replace the intake of vegetables. It is essential to the human body to eat vegetables to prevent illness and other health issues. There are, however, multi-vitamins that can assist in providing needed nutrients.
For people who do not like vegetables, Mitchell offered some advice. She suggested adding vegetables to a favorite soup or to fruit smoothies. Try adding cheese to vegetables or putting them in omelets. Eat a bite of a vegetable with a bite of something that is enjoyable so it disguises the taste. Do whatever it takes to get those nutrients into the body! According to Mitchell, the ideal amounts of greens per week are as follows:
- Teens and adults should consume three to four servings of dark green leafy vegetables per week.
- Children ages 4 to 8 should eat 1 cup of these vegetables and children ages 2 to 3 should eat up to a half cup.
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