The Benefits of Eating Vegetables: Part 1

The benefits of eating vegetables are numerous. Each one has multiple vitamins and minerals that improve your health, keep things running smoothly, and keep your hormone and nutrition levels balanced.

While they all play their own parts, some of them do more for you than others. I've divided these up by their classification. Stay tuned for a page on which vitamins your body needs and how to get them. 

Green Leafy Vegetables

Benefits of Eating Vegetables |

The best vegetable group (the highest nutritional value per calorie eaten) is the green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, lettuce, and cabbage. The benefits of eating vegetables in this category are too many to count. They have so many different good things packed in there it's almost ridiculous. They vary a little bit, but they almost all have the following: 

  • vitamin A (good for healthy skin, teeth, eyesight, immune system, and regular organ function)
  • vitamin C (boosts immune system, builds collagen in skin, helps the body absorb iron, protects against free-radicals)
  • vitamin K (helps blood clotting, helps the body absorb calcium)
  • magnesium (essential to over 300 body processes, produces cellular energy, )
  • calcium (for healthy bones, release of energy)
  • folate (important for cell birth and DNA
  • potassium (builds proteins and muscles, breaks down carbohydrates, maintains normal body growth, contrals pH balance)
  • manganese (necessary to keep your cellular energy process running smoothly)
  • ...and so many more!

Eating greens is basically like taking a particularly potent multi-vitamin, but better. 

While technically kale is better for you (it has the highest nutrition per calorie of any plant we eat), it isn't my number one green. My first place ribbon goes to spinach, because if you're not used to including vegetables in your diet, kale can take some getting used to. Prepared correctly, it's delicious, but it has a strong flavor and is less versatile than spinach.

I might have an advantage here because I've always liked spinach (my sister makes the best spanakopita, hands down, and I was raised on spinach dips, spinach and chicken quesadillas, white pizza etc.)

Some people don't like it so much, but I'd encourage you to find a recipe you like to eat it on because it's that good for you.

It is incredibly versatile: it is just as tasty mixed with strawberries for something sweet as it is with steak as something savory. It has a mild flavor that complements other flavors well. If you're unfamiliar with different vegetables, start with spinach. It's good raw in a salad or smoothie, cooked as a side by itself or in soups, salads, and casserole dishes. 

Graph courtesy of World's Healthiest Foods.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Many of these green leafy vegetables also fall into a vegetable group called "cruciferous vegetables." These include broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. 

Cauliflower, while not as full of chlorophyll as the rest of the cruciferous vegetables, is a must-eat vegetable. Extremely high in vitamin C and antioxidants, part of many detox diets, cancer-prevention diets, it's a little powerhouse of nutrients. Even though it's probably slightly less nutritious than its green counterparts, it has a mild enough flavor that it pairs well with everything, and tastes amazing roasted as a side, pureed as a soup, or raw on a salad.

Brussels sprouts are my newest favorite vegetable. I thought I hated them because they were slimy and bland, but then I had them roasted. If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts try cutting them in quarters after chopping off the stem, coating them in ghee or coconut oil and a couple cloves of minced garlic, then roasting them in the oven on 400 until their golden and caramelized. 

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Click here for part 3

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