10 Easy Ways to Get More Benefits from the Vegetables You Eat
Non-starchy vegetables are powerful sources of antioxidants and dietary fiber. These are components that help your body maintain a healthy immune system, balance blood sugar levels, and regulate bowel movements. Eating non-starchy vegetables will also provide more vitamins and minerals than you can get from most other foods. Unfortunately, most people don’t eat enough of them, and you might not be getting the full health benefits from the ones you eat. Need some guidance? Here are 10 simple ways to get more health benefits from the vegetables you eat.
1. Eat Some Raw Vegetables to Maximize Vitamin C
There are benefits to eating both raw and cooked vegetables, but you’ll get more vitamin C from those that you eat raw. Vitamin C is sensitive to heat or light, and if you cook vegetables, particularly in large amounts of water and at high temperatures, you’ll lose 40% or more of their vitamin C content. For example, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. However, studies show that vitamin C levels when you cook it. For instance, boiling broccoli lead to a 54.6% drop in its vitamin C content, while steaming lowered vitamin C by only 14%.
You also lose some B-vitamins when you cook vegetables for a long time, or expose them to high heat. However, cooking can also make some nutrients, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, more bioavailable. So, eat both cooked and raw veggies. For example, a study found that heating tomatoes boosted their lycopene content by 35%.
2. Choose Colorful Carbohydrates
If you have a choice between a starchy carbohydrate and a colorful vegetable, choose the latter. Color is a marker of a healthy array of phytonutrients that have benefits that go beyond simple nutrition. Some have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that you won’t get from their less colorful counterparts. So think color! Colorful vegetables are often easier on your blood sugar too. For example, potatoes cause a sharper rise in blood glucose than eating a colorful veggie like red cabbage.
3. Add a Source of Fat to Your Vegetables
Fat isn’t the enemy. In fact, adding modest quantities of healthy fat to a veggie plate or salad has benefits. For example, you’ll absorb more beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A from a salad, if you include a healthy source of fat. Cold-pressed olive oil, avocado, cold-water fish and flaxseed are good sources of healthy fats. Avoid processed vegetable and seed oils, like soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil.