Nutrition is important for everyone but the nutritional value of vegetables in a healthy diet is particularly important. Why? Vegetables are natural plant parts that humans eat or other mammals as food. The original intended meaning is still widely used today and is often applied to all edible vegetable matter, which includes the leaves, fruits, roots, flowers, and seeds. Many people often refer to them with respect to their nutritional value. However, there is a difference between what a vegetable is truly capable of providing.
Nutritional Value of Vegetables and Fruits
Some vegetables and some fruits have more fiber than others, while some contain very little fiber at all. One example is dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, and mustard greens. These vegetables have almost no fiber and do not make excellent base foods for a balanced diet. On the other hand, some fruits, such as oranges and bananas, are extremely high in fiber. Fruits that contain very little fiber are often high in sugar, which makes them poor choices for a diet that is low in carbohydrates.
There are several other factors to consider when determining the nutritional value of vegetables. Naturally, most vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that help prevent disease and maintain good health. For example, vegetables that are high in vitamin C are good for preventing colds and can strengthen the immune system. But, a diet that is high in vitamin C can also lead to vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to certain types of cancer. Leafy greens and other vegetables high in antioxidants can reduce your risk for heart disease and various cancers. Vegetables that contain a high amount of iron can lower your blood pressure and may help prevent stroke.
In addition, many people mistakenly think that vegetables provide only a handful of nutrients, when they are actually providing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. When you cook vegetables, you remove some of the vitamins and minerals. When you eat raw vegetables, you get more nutrients. However, when you cook vegetables, you often lose some of the vitamins and minerals. Therefore, cooked vegetables provide a more diverse range of nutrients.
Fiber is often considered an important nutrient when it comes to assessing the nutritional value of vegetables. Low-fiber vegetables, such as green vegetables, have a difficult time maintaining their shape and do not retain much of the nutrients in the form of starch. When starch is removed from vegetables, they become rough, chewy and hard, rather than soft and silky. Green vegetables lack a lot in fiber because they have a very tough texture. However, you will discover plenty of fiber in legumes and beans.
Legumes and beans have a surprising amount of nutritional value. These foods contain complete protein and are rich in vitamins A, C and iron. In addition, vegetables contain a complete range of vitamins and minerals that is not found in other foods, making them excellent dietary proteins. Vegetables also contain a wide range of B vitamins, fiber, magnesium and potassium, all of which are important to your health and can help protect you against certain diseases.
Another thing that you might want to take into account when evaluating nutritional value of vegetables is antioxidants. Our diets are often deficient in antioxidants. Green vegetables contain a great deal of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, proanthocyanins, quercetin and procyanidins. The amount of antioxidants varies according to the variety of green vegetables that you eat, but you should find plenty of antioxidants in red cabbage and kale. Other foods with a high antioxidant concentration include: broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, artichoke hearts, black and red bell pepper, lettuce, oranges, raisins, strawberries, cabbage, kale and cauliflower.
Fruits are another good choice to add to your diet, especially if you’re trying to evaluate the nutritional value of vegetables. Fruits are high in both vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as potassium and fiber. However, unlike vegetables, fruits have to be fresh to provide their nutritional value. Some fruits are also loaded with sugar, so it’s best to choose those that come straight from the garden like apples, oranges and strawberries. Fruits are a great addition to a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.