Benefits of Vegetables
Vegetables are our natural food. Yet very few people are aware that vegetables contain carbohydrates. When asked what they contain, most people say that vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre but never carbohydrate! Recollect your first lesson in botany on photosynthesis when you learnt how sunlight is trapped by the chlorophyll in leaves to make carbohydrate and then consider what herbivores eat in nature. The deer eats only grass, stems and leaves and runs swiftly. It does not eat rice, wheat or pulses to get energy. How foolish we are to think that stamina depends on eating seeds. The excess glucose found in seeds is converted straightaway to fat, because the body cannot use it. The carbohydrate content in plants suits the energy needs of land animals. If we eat plants we will get the correct amount of energy for our activities and blood glucose levels will never cross normal limits. Avoid eating large quantities of root vegetables as they contain more carbohydrates. You may however eat radish, turnip, onions, ginger and garlic. Also you can avoid taking unripe banana but you can still eat banana stem and flowers. All other vegetables may be eaten in plenty.
Antioxidants are found in flavonoids (present in dark green vegetables, herbs, onions, broccoli and tea), carotenoids (present in orange, red fruit, vegetables), Vitamin C, Vitamin E (in vegetable oils and nuts) and in many minerals. These antioxidants combine with toxic wastes in our body called free radicals and prevent them from oxidizing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, which would then block our arteries. Antioxidants thus protect us against coronary artery disease. Antioxidants also protect us against the harmful effects of pollutants and pesticides, which might enhance the risk of cancer, depress the immune system and enhance the aging process. Vegetables also contain fibre which binds cholesterol in the gut, thus decreasing its absorption into the blood. Fibre also protects us against cancer of the colon, and releases glucose into the blood slowly.
Green leafy vegetables are the best food in the world. They contain carbohydrate, protein, vitamin A, B and C, calcium and even iron. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids which help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Since leafy vegetables like ladies fingers, brinjal, drumstick, capsicum, beans and the watery vegetables are really fruits, but, because they are not sweet, we call them vegetables. Nature has provided us and land animals with these fruits that have less glucose in them, while sweet fruits containing fructose are meant for birds and climbing animals that need more energy for flying, jumping etc. Cucumber, cabbage, squash, capsicum, tomato, onion, turnip and radish may be eaten raw as a salad or mixed with curd and eaten as raita. All other vegetables and baby corn may be seasoned and cooked in oil as you would normally do using all the spices and masalas to make them tasty. You may eat as much as you like.