A healthy You: Eat Your Veggies

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By Cindy Gates RD, LD, CES, CWC

We often hear that eating your veggies helps fight diseases, especially cancer. We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables and aim for eight to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Of that, five to six servings should come from veggies. This is about two to three cups of vegetables a day.

The Blue Zones initiative promotes plant slant, or eating a more plant-based diet rich with veggies, beans and nuts.

Cruciferous vegetables are named for their flowers, which have four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross – hence the Latin word crucifer, meaning “cross-bearer.” All vegetables have protective compounds, but cruciferous vegetables have unique compounds that help boost your immunity and spur anti-cancer activity.

You should aim for three to fine servings of cruciferous vegetables a week.

Some recent studies show that cruciferous vegetables are twice as powerful as other plant foods. In population studies, a 20 percent increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20 percent decrease in cancer rates, but a 20 percent increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40 percent decrease in cancer rates.

Twenty-eight servings of vegetables per week decreases prostate cancer by 33 percent, but just three servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreases prostate cancer by 41 percent.

One or more servings of cabbage per week reduces the occurrence of pancreatic cancer by 38 percent.

To maximize the benefits of cruciferous vegetables:
1. Chew all cruciferous veggies very well, trying to crush every cell.
2. Puree, blend, or chop cruciferous vegetables before adding them to soups.
3. When steaming cruciferous vegetables, try to undercook slightly so they are not too mushy.

Cruciferous Vegetables:

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli 
  • Collards 
  • Mustard Greens 
  • Bok choy 
  • Brussels Sprouts 
  • Horseradish 
  • Radishes 
  • Cabbage 
  • Kale 
  • Turnip greens 
  • Broccoli rabe 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Watercress

Cauliflower, Cabbage and Carrot Salad
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
2 medium carrots, grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise
Toss together cauliflower with cabbage, carrots, onion, walnuts and parsley. Whisk together vinegar, mustard. Add oil and mayo and whisk.
Drizzle over salad and mix well.
Makes 6 servings.
Per Serving: 90 calories, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 70 mg sodium.

Post by Robin McGinty

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