Need a little motivation to get you eating more vegetables? Here are four surprising reasons to increase your vegetable intake:
They fight bloat
Bloating and gas are usually tied to what and how you eat. Vegetables can help reduce bloating—but if your gut is not healthy, they can make bloating worse. A major cause of bloating is gas in your abdomen, half of which is simply swallowed air. You can reduce swallowed air by refraining from habits like drinking through a straw, chewing gum, or drinking carbonated beverages. The remaining abdominal gas is produced by the bacteria in your gut that help digest your food. If food doesn't move quickly enough through your digestive tract, gas can build up in your intestines, resulting in that uncomfortable bloated feeling.
Although very few folks may associate vegetables with creating a bloated belly, most vegetables actually do the opposite. Vegetables are rich in fibre, which flushes out waste and gastric irritants and prevents constipation by keeping the digestive tract moving.
Vegetables can also help you look leaner by counteracting bloat caused by salt. Most adults get nearly twice the recommended sodium limit. Eating a bacon and egg biscuit, a typical restaurant meal, or instant soup means consuming nearly an entire day's sodium allotment. Vegetables are rich in both potassium and water, which help flush excess sodium out of the body while restoring the body's normal fluid balance.
To ease that full feeling in your stomach, try eating fennel, cucumbers, summer squash, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce or tomatoes.
If you experience gas when you start to add more vegetables to your diet, choose steamed vegetables rather than raw ones. The heat from cooking breaks down some of the fibre and will keep gastric distress to a minimum as your body adjusts to consuming the fibre you need.
2. They create a youthful glow
Want younger-looking skin? Vegetables prevent unwanted signs of aging and keep skin young and supple thanks to phyto-nutrients, vitamin C and high water content.
Many vegetables are 85% to 95% water, which helps hydrate the skin and reduce wrinkles. And phyto-nutrients found in all vegetables can guard against premature aging by preventing cell damage from stress, the sun, pollution and other environmental toxins. According to studies, Vitamin C aids in collagen formation, Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
Choose brightly coloured red and orange vegetables and you'll get an added boost of beta carotene, which can give you a healthy glow as it protects skin from sun damage. Similarly, lycopene found in red vegetables such as tomatoes also has been shown to act as a natural sunscreen.
Eat vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli and potatoes for vitamin C, and carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and other orange produce for beta carotene.
3. They reduce stress
Meanwhile, nutrients like magnesium and vitamin C are quickly depleted during stressful times. Luckily, many vegetables contain these very nutrients, as well as tension-reducing omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins that fight anxiety and depression.
The potassium and magnesium found in some vegetables can also calm you on the inside as they relax blood vessels and keep your blood pressure down, according to research. And fibre keeps blood sugar levels stable, preventing dips in energy and the associated mood swings.
To reduce stress, eat any vegetable. Mushrooms, leafy greens, squash, potatoes, bell peppers, spinach, bok choi, fennel, string beans and edamame are especially good sources of several vitamins and minerals.
For a no-fuss way to consume more vegetables and combat stress, add leafy greens, mushrooms and peppers to your sandwiches, wraps, soups, pizza, tomato sauce and omelettes.
4. They protect your bones
Most people think of dairy foods as the bone protectors, thanks to their high calcium and vitamin D content. But some vegetables also have these same nutrients in addition to bone-building vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and fibre.
Tomatoes in particular have recently been connected to bone health. A study found that when you remove lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes from the diet, women are at increased risk of osteoporosis.
Eat strong-spined, dark leafy greens like collard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach (cooked for more calcium!), broccoli and green peas for calcium and vitamin K. Mushrooms contain vitamin D while asparagus, chard, kale, artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks are full of fibre.
There have been innumerable research studies done all over the world that strongly suggest having fresh, green vegetables on a regular basis is far better than going for supplementary tablets to get the wholesome nutrition that you need.
Do Vegetables Help to Lose Weight?
It is a well-established fact that eating veggies is a healthy way to lose or maintain weight. Moreover, vegetables are storehouses of vitamins, fibre, minerals, and other nutrients that keep you fit and healthy. In fact, vegetables are called ‘negative calorie foods’ because it actually helps to lose weight by spending more amount of energy to digest the food than it actually adds to your overall caloric intake.
You will find two types of vegetables, starchy and non-starchy. You can include both of these in your diet; however, the non-starch varieties can be consumed in unlimited quantities. Starchy vegetables have more sugar, so you need to keep the quantity in check. Starchy vegetables include peas, plantains, squash, potatoes, and yams; the rest are the non- starch vegetables, which include cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, beets, carrots, broccoli, onions, cucumber, leeks, eggplant, tomato, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, salad greens, and zucchini.
However, if you are on strict diet, then consider the so called ‘free foods’; these vegetables contain minimal calories with high nutritional value. These are carrots, radishes, celery, cucumbers, fresh green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
To lose weight, it is not necessary to turn into a vegetarian, but if you simply start eating an abundance of fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, your health will improve. That type of diet, when combined with other exercise plans, drastically reduces your weight and keeps you fit and healthy. Most of the plant foods are low-calorie and low-fat, while also keeping you filled for a longer time. As they are fresh and whole, your body will get used to eating natural, organic foods, rather than fast food or overly processed foods.
Skin Care and Vegetables
For ages, our mothers and grandmothers have carried on the natural methods to keep their beauty intact. On the other hand, our skins today are usually pampered with loads of expensive creams, toners, cleanses and ointments, but they definitely lack the natural glow and suppleness that earlier generations had. As is often said, nature knows the best ways to keep us in perfect health, whether it is our organs, limbs, skin or hair. The fruits and vegetables that we often tend to forget in our diet are the best treatments for bright, glowing and healthy skin. The vibrant pigments in fruits and vegetables also have immense disease-fighting capabilities. Rich in a host of useful nutrients and powerful antioxidants, vegetables should be included in a daily diet if you want to improve the health of your skin. Both fruits and vegetables can be divided into four colour groups; each of them having specific benefits.
‘Orange and yellows’ include sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, and apricots. They have lots of vitamin C, which is highly beneficial to the skin and aids in the growth and protection of collagen. Collagen retains the elasticity of your skin, thus delaying the appearance of wrinkles.
The group of ‘reds’ includes tomatoes, red peppers, red onions, and papayas, all of which are lycopene-rich. They effectively protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. However, it should be noted that cooked tomatoes offer you more lycopene than raw ones, meaning you get more benefits from tomato sauce than raw tomatoes!
The next group is ‘greens’, which include broccoli, kiwis, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, green bell peppers, collards, romaine and spinach. These vegetables are mainly rich in vitamin C.
The ‘blues’ include plums, beets, eggplant, red grapes, and purple cabbage. They are rich in antioxidants, which are needed for healthy, radiant skin. Any combination of vegetables works wonders for the skin, because it not only delays the signs of aging, but also keeps the skin bright, fresh and prevents drying and other skin disorders.
Nowadays, many natural treatment salons opt for vegetable facials and have started using vegetable toner by mixing chopped cucumber flesh, lettuce leaves, lemon juice and chopped tomato into the facial material. You can make this toner at home quite easily to gain a brighter complexion. Vegetable peelings are also performed in many salons, which ensure blemish-free and bright skin.
Vegetables Promote Hair Growth
You might be surprised to know that a healthy diet with many vegetables gives your hair a greater health boost than the most expensive shampoos in the market. Only a proper diet can assure you of hair growth as it’s something that is affected from within. Proper nutrient supply ensures strong, healthy and lustrous hair. Vegetables are undoubtedly the powerhouses of nutrition, since they are packed with the vitamins and minerals that your hair needs most. As discussed before, if you categorize vegetables in terms of color and include at least one serving of each in your diet, you will get ample benefits for your hair.
The dark green vegetables are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron, which are essential for the production of sebum, an oily substance that is secreted from your scalp and acts as natural hair conditioner. Iron or calcium deficiencies can lead to excessive hair loss.
Red vegetables have plenty of lycopene. You will find this nutrient in many hair products as well. Red peppers have plentiful amounts of lycopene and the shiny outer skins have a high percentage of silica, a mineral required to maintain your hair’s thickness.
The orange vegetables (especially carrots) have beta-carotene, which is the antioxidant necessary for healthy hair growth. They’re rich in vitamin C as well, which protects your hair from free radicals. The orange veggies shield your hair from the harmful effects of the sun and keep the moisture inside.
The yellow vegetables have similar nutritional value as those of orange vegetables. The white vegetables like onions are powerful antioxidants that shield your hair from root to tip. Moreover, they are rich in vitamin C, often considered the “anti-aging vitamin”.
Onion juice was recommended in ancient times to be applied topically, since it helps in stimulating hair growth. Further studies are being done at different universities round the world regarding onion juice to see if this ancient claim is really true.
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