5 reason veggies should fill half your plate with vegetables
I’ve never read a diet or nutrition book that advises limiting vegetables. Be it Atkins to Vegan diets, they all advocate the veggie and the more the better. Yet, the bulk of many people’s diets are often meats and starches. All that said, more and more I’m seeing the veggie returning as a staple and for good reason!! Here’s why!
Low Calorie – Most veggies , especially the green variety are intrinsically low in calories. A cup of broccoli for instance is 30 calories, zucchini right around the same, that big lettuce salad with tomatoes, cucumber and radishes….maybe 100 calories tops. Contrary to popular belief potatoes and corn aren’t vegetables per se, they are starches where a cup of potato is 114 calories and a cup of corn 132. A person can eat more than 4 cups of broccoli to a single cup of corn. Get the picture.
Vitamins and Mineral – In addition to being low in calories, Vegetables are traditionally high in nutrients. They are the most nutrient dense of any of the food groups. Take kale, collard greens and water cress for instance. Those three vegetable score a perfect 1,000 on the ANDI scale that measures nutrient density of food. That 30 calorie cup of broccoli scores 389, corn 44 and potato 31. Not only are the starchy foods higher in calories, but are lower in vitamins and minerals necessary for good health!!
Fiber – Plants, by their very nature, contain fiber in every cell. The fiber, called cellulose, gives plant structure and when we eat it confers health benefits to us. In our bodies, fiber acts to slow down digestion so we feel full faster and eat less. In addition, slowing digestion means we release glucose into our blood stream in a slower more controlled rate. When the fiber moves to the colon, our gut flora use it as fuel that nourishes the gut lining. It absorbs cholesterol so it can be eliminated in the stool while making bowel movements more regular and less difficult to pass.
Low Glycemic – Because vegetables are low calorie with lots of fiber, they make the perfect low glycemic meal. Foods that consistently spike blood sugar eventually cause insulin resistance which spurs weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. The veggie…not so much. Vegetables keep blood glucose stable while conferring all of their health benefits mentioned above such as fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Phytonutrients – If you’re not sold on the veggie already, this final reason should do it. Phytonutrients!! Phytonutrients aren’t vitamins or minerals. Instead, they are yet another health benefit packed into your favorite veggies. Plants make phytonutrients to protect themselves from funguses, UV rays, insects and the like. When you eat the plant, their phytonutrients confer healing properties to you. For instance the phytonutrient lycopene has been found to help prevent prostate cancer. Zeaxanthin helps prevent and reverse macular degeneration. There are thousands of phytonutrients in plants and many we don’t yet know all the ways they help us stay vital and healthy.
It is recommended that each day you eat 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day…at least!! It’s hard to eat too many and you really can’t go wrong making them a staple in your every day diet.
Dr. Cheri King ND
Dr. Cheri King is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Oregon. She attended National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR where she graduated with honors in research for her work investigating detoxification diets.
She is a cofounder of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association, and received the Jim Lemkin World in Balance award for achievement in applying holistic healing principles in her own life as well as the lives of others. She also received the David Family Award scholarship and the Founders merit scholarship for outstanding performance.
She teaches nutrition and wellness at the Community College of Denver and sees patients at her private practice, Colorado Natural Health Center, in Louisville, CO.
For more information about Dr. King go to www.coloradonaturalhealthcenter.com