Vegetable – powerful and important in healthy eating
A diet with high vegetable content provides beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, potassium and other minerals. The high fibre content aids bowel function and the bioflavonoids help prevent disease.
Whether we consume vegetables in their natural form or cooked, they provide a great source of essential nutrients.
Portion sizes vary depending on the vegetable, though if you can imagine 3-4 heaped tablespoons this is a good guide. Try to consume both raw and cooked and a variety of colours, not only will your dish look appealing you will maximise the nutrient variety. For example the darker the leaf the more vitamin C and beta carotene it will have. Deep yellow will provide a high antioxidant in the form of vitamin A.
Maximising the nutrient content
Nutrient content is altered depending on the way the vegetables are prepared.
The yellow carotene is not water soluble, so remains when boiled but vitamins B and C leak into the water. However, the enzyme that destroys the vitamin B and C stops at boiling point, so always add your vegetables to boiling water. The best method is steaming.
How to increase your vegetable intake
- When making a sandwich add tomatoes, shredded white cabbage, cucumbers, peppers and raw spinach.
- Make homemade pizza with small pieces of raw vegetables or lightly steamed.
- Add extra vegetables to any ready meals you use.
- Make some homemade vegetable soup.
- Cut vegetables into mouth size snack pieces and store in the fridge for a quick healthy snack.
If eating a vegetarian diet
Always select a variety of vegetables, whole grains and seeds.
Use natural yogurt to increase vitamin B12.