From the time you sat on your high chair until today, from your mother trying to feed you your first piece of broccoli to your doctor who has placed you on a diet, you have probably heard the words, “Eat your veggies so you’ll grow big and strong” at least a million times.
These words have likely resonated in the ears of nearly every person on this planet. However, it should not be surprising to know that there is actual truth behind those words.
Did you know that there are nutrients in food that you can’t get from animal foods?
Folate, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin C, and potassium are only a few of the vitamins and minerals exclusive to fruits and vegetables.
This is why nutritionists recommend the consumption of a healthy serving at every meal for a balanced diet. 60 to 80% of a standard meal should consist of fruits and vegetables. The remaining half would be divided between healthy protein and/or whole grains.
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Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow
It is also significant to note that eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables can help you limit your intake of unhealthy foods. Moreover, your diet will be packed with essential nutrients that are only available from plant foods. Filling your plate with all the colors of the rainbow will help you to get all the essential nutrients your body needs to maintain health and happiness.
Here is a list of nutrients that you can’t get from animal foods
Phytochemicals or phytonutrients come solely from plant foods. This broad term encompasses a broad range of compounds that can be obtained from different fruits and vegetables. Adding phytochemicals to your diet can help diminish the risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer. The more well-known phytochemicals include beta-carotene and lycopene.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. When consumed by the body, it is converted to vitamin A which, in turn, can be beneficial in suppressing the onslaught of mental diseases like Parkinson’s.
Lycopene is another example of an antioxidant that is widely known for its anti-cancer properties. It is commonly associated with tomatoes; however, foods like papaya, watermelon, and pink grapefruit also contain lycopene.
Fiber is essential to the performance of the digestive system. Not only does it help cleanse the system, but it can also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure. The regular intake of dietary fiber can also regulate insulin levels. Examples of fiber-rich plant foods are nuts, seeds, beans, and berries.
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Folate aka vitamin B9
Occurring naturally in food, folate — also known as vitamin B9 — is critical in the development of a healthy brain and the formulation of red blood cells. Folate is essential for women who want to conceive and for those who are already pregnant. Natural sources of folate include artichokes, spinach, and celery.
Plant foods are abundant in vitamin C that can improve the body’s resistance to diseases and stress. Typically associated with citrus fruits, vitamin C is also available from other types of plant foods like peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, and guavas.
These essential nutrients in foods are only a tip of the iceberg of what the plant kingdom has to offer. With the abundant variety of fresh produce provided by Mother Nature, adding fruits and vegetables to your diet need not be a daily exercise in vain. So, take your pick and enjoy a healthy serving of green goodness with every meal.
Thanks for reading. I hope this information was helpful. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.