“Eat your greens” may sound familiar to most of us. Since young, we’ve been told the importance of regularly consuming our vegetables and fruits and how beneficial they are to our health.
Vegetable is defined as the edible part of a plant. Vegetables pack a powerful nutritional punch with water soluble vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin C, fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A and vitamin D, minerals and fiber. Furthermore, they boast a range of anti-oxidants, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-carcinogenic nutrients. Different vegetables contain different nutrient contents though. Fruits, on the other hand, are defined as ripened ovaries together with seeds of a flowering plant, usually surrounded by sweet tasting tissues. Fruits consist of lots of nutrients too and most importantly are packed with fiber.
Recommended Daily Consumption
It is recommended that we eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are linked with reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and can aid weight loss by helping to increase fullness with fewer calories. In fact, the FDA also acknowledges that a low fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer! This is due to the abundance of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants can cancel out the cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
Here are a few common vegetables and fruits that have anti-cancer properties in them:
Broccoli possesses abundant fleshy green flower heads that look like little trees. And these ‘little trees’ are surrounded by leaves. This renowned ‘miracle’ vegetable is best known for its potent anti-cancer properties. Much research has been done on the beneficial phytochemicals, particularly sulforaphane and the indoles. These two compounds are believed to be able to help activate and stabilize the body’s antioxidant and detoxification mechanisms to eliminate cancer-producing substances. Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have concluded that broccoli might decrease the prevalence of cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, lungs, prostate, esophagus, larynx and bladder. Moreover, broccoli contains 3% of protein and is one of the richest vegetable sources of Vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and magnesium. Unbeknownst to most, broccoli leaf is also edible!
How To Choose Broccoli
Look for tightly closed, compact, dark green to purplish green flowerets on tender, firm stalks. Avoid those with yellow flowers, wilted leaves and thick, tough stems.
Cabbage is the humble vegetable that has been a longstanding dietary staple throughout the world. It used to be food for the poor as it is sturdy, abundant and inexpensive. Today, it is widely known for its endless list of goodness. Like broccoli, it also has an abundance of phytochemicals, principally indole-3-carbinole (I3C) and sulforaphane. I3C has been shown to improve estrogen detoxification and to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. One downside though, it also contains sulfur that can produce strong cooking odor and also causes flatulence!
How To Choose Cabbage
Look for solid, heavy heads of cabbage. Avoid cabbage that has discolored veins or worm damage. Do not buy precut cabbage, the leaves may have already lost their Vitamin C. Look for stems that are healthy looking, closely trimmed, and are not dry or split.
The apricot is a fruit-bearing tree, native to Armenia, which later spread to Europe and later many destinations. It is delicious and fragrant, is another fruit that has anti-cancer properties. It is packed with beta carotene and other powerful antioxidants such as Vitamin C and lycopene. Combined, they help protect against cancer, heart diseases and stroke. It is also a rich source of fiber which aids digestion.
How To Choose Apricot
Choose apricots that are slightly soft but still firm and fuzzy in texture, with a yellow-orange color. Ripe apricots bruise easily, so look for unblemished fruit, especially for dessert and fresh-fruit compotes. Avoid buying apricots that have no aroma or that are rock-hard.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron. Iron helps build the blood while its sulphur content can help clean the liver. It is also a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, magnesium, chlorophyll and several vital antioxidants. Spinach is high in oxalic acid and should be avoided by those who are prone to kidney stoned or gallstones.
How To Choose Spinach
Buy loose spinach instead of bagged to have more control over what you’re buying. If you cannot find loose spinach at your grocery store, select bagged spinach by squeezing the bag to make sure the spinach is springy.
Botanically, tomato is a fruit but it is a vegetable for the purposes of 1883 Tariff Act! Whether it is a fruit or a vegetable, tomatoes have a rich source of lycopene, a carotenoid that is a powerful antioxidant. It may lower the risk of certain diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and macular degenerative disease. It is also rich in Vitamin A and C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.
How To Choose Tomatoes
Tomatoes should be firm and juicy with bright, unblemished skin. Choose those that have a deep color and give a little when squeeze. A ripe tomato smells like a tomato, whereas an unripe one has no aroma.