10 benefits of vegetables that may surprise you
by: Mark Mahoney, Guest columnist
As we head into the summer with our gardens (hopefully) producing an abundance of fresh veggies and many others available in farmers markets, knowing some of the benefits of consuming vegetables may surprise you.
Vegetables are superstars and nearly every diet— from Mediterranean to Paleo to Weight Watchers to DASH feature a piece of them.
Although you think you know your veggies, some of these 10 things may surprise you.
1. You probably don’t eat enough.
Nine out of 10 Americans don’t consume a sufficient amount. A good target is at least 2 ½ cups a day. Even better yet, cover half your plate — and not just at dinner — with vegetables (and/or fruits). And, don’t forget snacks. Tide yourself over to your next meal without ruining your appetite or overdoing your calorie budget.
2. Veggies help you slash calories.
Not many foods are found with just 10 to 50 calories per serving. Many vegetable are comprised of a large amount of water, so unless you smother them with dressing, sauce, butter, or sauté oils, they’re a steal.
Now, you can replace boring white rice with “rice” made of cauliflower, or substitute your pasta for zucchini spirals. Calories drop from 200 to 20 per cup.
3. There is very strong evidence that veggies protect your heart and brain.
Although we may think of vegetables as cancer fighters, there’s more evidence that they protect your blood vessels.
In a recent meta-analysis of up to 20 studies on up to a million people, individuals who consumed 18 ounces of vegetables (about 3 cups) a day had roughly a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke when compared to those who ate little or none.
A DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study noted an 8 to 14 point drop in systolic blood pressure (the higher number) when people were fed a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. The diet was also low in added sugars, saturated fats, refined grains and salt. This drop was about the same you’d get from some drugs that lower blood pressure.
4. Veggies may lower the risk of breast cancer.
Although cancers vary, vegetables may help prevent some but not others.
One example of a pooled analysis of 20 studies of nearly a million women found that vegetables were not linked to the most common breast tumors, which are fueled by estrogen (estrogen-positive). It was noted that women who ate the most vegetables (at least 14 ounces a day) had a 15 percent lower risk of estrogen-negative breast cancer than those who ate only 5 ounces……
Source: Tallahassee Democrat