Kids don’t have that strong a relationship to vegetables. Kids will go through the motions, pushing broccoli spears and lima beans around their plate a few times, but few veggies actually reach the inside of a kid’s mouth.
And yet, we want our kids to eat vegetables on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to serve fresh veggies daily, and make sure WE eat all the vegetables on our plates!
Why bother? It turns out that vegetables – all kinds of vegetables – contain super-powerful ingredients that help keep us healthy and help us ward off a wide range of serious illnesses.1,2 These magical substances – phytochemicals – give fruits and vegetables their big nutritional kick!
“Phyto” is Greek for “plant”. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients and the most phytochemicals.
Well-known phytochemicals include lycopene, found in tomatoes; isoflavones, found in soy; and flavonoids, found in fruits such as blueberries and cranberries.3 Phytochemicals have wide-ranging effects – some are antioxidants, others stimulate enzyme activity, and others have hormonal action. All phytochemicals act to enhance health and well-being and human performance.
Antioxidants provide significant protection for your body’s cells against the destructive oxidation potential of free radicals. Free radicals are produced by normal metabolic activities, and they are neutralized by antioxidants which we obtain in a well-balanced diet.
But if we’re not consuming our daily requirement of fruits and vegetables, our reserves of antioxidants are decreased, and free radicals can destroy cells and create disease. For example, certain types of cancer are linked to free radical damage.
Bottom line – broccoli spears are much more than flowery green things your Mom used to make you eat. Broccoli is a superfood, rich in antioxidants and rich in cancer-fighting ability.
Carrots – another superfood- are rich in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Your body converts a portion of beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which helps strengthen the immune system and protects the digestive tract.
Tomatoes round out the list of the top three super-veggies. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene – a potent antioxidant. Lycopenes give tomatoes their rich, red color. These phytochemicals have proven health benefits in the areas of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Eating vegetables daily provides so much benefit for people of all ages. Five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables are recommended in a balanced nutritional program.
Your chiropractor is an expert on nutrition and will be glad to help you construct food plans that work for you and your family.
- Hayes JD, et al: The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates. Eur J Nutr 47(Suppl 2):73-88, 2008
- Nair S, et al: Natural dietary anti-cancer chemopreventive compounds: redox-mediated differential signaling mechanisms in cytoprotection of normal cells versus cytotoxicity in tumor cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin 28(4):459-472, 2007
- Vinson JA, et al: Cranberries and cranberry products: Powerful in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo sources of antioxidants. J Agric Food Chem June 2008 (in press)