The healthiest carbohydrates we can consume are vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Why? Well, first of all it’s helpful to understand that all carbohydrates turn into glucose in the body which is the major fuel for the body’s cells, resulting in energy. However, there are some foods which convert quickly into glucose and jack up blood sugar (such as refined sugar). This causes a quick release of insulin which is a fat storage hormone and can cause weight gain, as well as disease.
However, vegetables contain less carbohydrates than other carb foods and they do not turn to glucose quickly like sweets. So why do I say “Gather Vegetable Recipes” and not fruit and grain recipes. That’s because I have never had a problem getting enough fruit and grains; both were handy and I could even eat them on the run. But I rarely considered grabbing a vegetable and I certainly didn’t have numerous healthy vegetable recipes on hand. In fact, I usually opened up a can of beans like my mom did and heat it up on the stove.
The problem with canned vegetables is that they are usually what is called “dead” food; it is depleted of healthy micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) Consider the following picture containing beans which are a carb food. On the left is fresh or frozen beans (alive with micronutrients). Now contrast that with the picture on the right, which is canned green beans (deplete of micronutrients) . It’s really not difficult to tell which one is healthier.
I remember when I would visit my grandma and she would serve up a plate of tasty vegetables. But my mom worked full time, and canned was always more convenient. I remember my Grandma saying, “Eat your vegetables! They’re good for you.” Which absolutely amazes me because I’m sure she had no idea of why they were so healthy. Maybe it was just that she had worked so hard to grow and cook them and didn’t want them to go to waste. I can’t imagine how emphatic she would have been on the subject of getting me to eat vegetables if she had known about all of the micronutrients in them. In vegetables, they are also known as phyto(vegetable)nutrients.
So what are phytonutrients? I’m glad you asked. Phyto (or plant) nutrients are chemicals in plants which nourish our cells and act as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from being damaged from invaders like pollutants, germs, fungus, and free radicals. These disease causing invaders, combined with a lack of phytonutrients, can lead to cancer, macular degeneration, a rise in blood pressure, destruction of nerve cells, arthritis, skin rashes, and even acne.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are thousands of phytonutrients in plants which are indicated by their pigment. I mentioned 3 of the benefits of these power packed nutrients in “My Food Cure.” Following are just a few more intended to encourage you to eat more of these God-given disease fighters:
Carotenoids are in the red, orange, and yellow, pigment in vegetables like carrots, watermelon, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and yams. They stand at bar around our cells to protect them from damage. For instance, tomatoes are loaded with carotenoids that interfere with chemical unions needed to create carcinogens. Lycopene is a carotenoid found in the red pigment of carrots, tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon and has been linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer. Lutein, found in yellow squash, carrots and corn, may aid in eye health and help prevent such things as macular degeneration.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, and radishes. When a cancer molecule enters a cell, a nutrient in broccoli activates enzymes that can whisk it out before it can cause harm. These great disease fighters detoxify cells, thus aiding the immune system. They may also help fight breast and colon cancer.
Bioflavonoids give plants their red, blue, or purple color which may actually fight such things as parasites and bacteria. Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes all contain bioflavonoids which may keep cancer hormones from latching onto cells. They are thought to be good for younger looking skin and may help prevent heart disease.
Chlorophyll is found in leafy greens such as spinach, collards, parsley, alfalfa sprouts, green tea, and milk thistle which are believed to act as a tumor fighter, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral antiparasitic agent. It may also cleanse the body of lead and mercury.
This is just a small portion of what I learned in my research which convinced me to do what Grandma said. But unfortunately, I didn’t have a garden like Grandma and I didn’t cook vegetables like Grandma did. I could easily grab a piece of fruit, and every now and then a carrot, but gathering vegetable recipes took a little more time.
Hopefully, the vegetable recipes on this site will help you in this step toward better health. Not only will I continue to add tasty vegetable recipes, but I will also do my best to include vegetables in my main dishes, soups and sandwiches.
For further study of phytonutrients see Toxic Relief (Colbert, 2003. 113-128), and other resources on my resource page.
Additional resources for this article:
“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (Genesis 2:8,9) Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. (Genesis 1:29)
How great is the love and care of our God! Please leave a comment about anything you would like to add concerning these nutrients and thousands more that He created for our health. I would love to know if learning about this causes you to want to eat more vegetables. If not, guess I’ll have to work a little harder.
And don’t forget to leave a comment!