“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. The Greek physician Hippocrates may have been way ahead of his time in extolling the health-giving virtues of a good diet. It is noteworthy that the idea that vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet has been “hammered” into our collective consciousness by experts.
Nutritionists will always recommend eating three to five servings of vegetables every day. For some people, the produce component of their diet consists chiefly of fruits. Popular fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, and raisins are sweet and delicious. The vegetables in the diet often tend to be the sweeter or starchier kinds, such as tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes. All of these foods are valuable, but if you avoid or limit leafy greens, you are missing out on many important health benefits.
No doubt one thing that identifies fully a Nigerian food market is nothing else than the beautifying colours of leafy green vegetables lying on the market tables or baskets. From scent leaf, pumpkin leaf (Ugu), waterleaf, bitter leaf (onugbu by the Igbos), lettuce, cabbage, to mention a few are some of the many vegetables with enormous health benefits which you cannot neglect.
There are many ways to incorporate green vegetables into a diet and to make them taste even more delicious than they already are. Green vegetables are very nutritious and have many proven and potential health benefits.
If healthy weight management is your goal, try boosting your intake of fibre-rich non-starchy vegetables. You can include cabbage in sandwiches and salads. Cabbage can be very effective in helping you reduce kilos. It helps cleanse the upper section of the intestines, which makes the elimination of waste material from the body easy, thus helping with digestion. Studies have shown that getting in a variety of vegetables each day lowers your risk for being overweight or obese. One study published in the journal “Plos Medicine” found higher intakes of non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower and leafy greens are associated with lower body weights.
Vegetables are heart-friendly options. No wonder physicians recommend more of vegetables for heart health. The World Health Organisation recommend vegetable intake as it helps to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk for heart disease and stroke. Vegetables are rich in fibre (which helps lower blood cholesterol) and free from saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Fresh vegetables are low in sodium, as well (sodium can contribute to high blood pressure when consumed in excess). Therefore, boosting your vegetable intake can help lower your risk for heart disease, especially if you eat vegetables in place of not-so-healthy foods.
It is generally held that eating vegetables will help to prevent constipation-related issues. If you are suffering from constipation, try to make a change in your diet by including more of vegetables. This will easily treat your problem with the high amount of fibre in most of the vegetables.
For those who want to improve their bone strength, green leafy vegetables are your best companion. With age, our bones tend to become weaker. Women particularly become more susceptible to conditions like osteoporosis or endocrine bone disease, studies have revealed. Consuming a diet rich in green leafy vegetables is thus essential for improving bone strength. Green vegetables are a rich source of calcium which supports the bones, keeping them dense and healthy. They also contain high amounts of vitamin K that is essential for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for improving bone density.
Being the most natural form of food, a number of researches have revealed the impact a diet rich in leafy green vegetables can have towards warding off cancer. Dark leafy green vegetables are bursting with carotenoids, foliate, chlorophyll, and fibre. These compounds help stop or slow the growth of some forms of cancer. They are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, iron, and calcium, and dozens of antioxidants that battle and remove free radicals from your body. Also, regular consumption of vegetables like sprouts and cabbage boost the body with cancer fighting compounds.
Yet again if you find yourself fatigued and low on energy most of the time, chances are your diet lacks the required dose of leafy greens. Low levels of iron in the body can result in lack of energy. Leafy greens like spinach are excellent sources of iron.