If they’re not already, non-starchy vegetables should become a mainstay in your plan. They’re low in calories, loaded with water and fiber (the volume of which, assists with hunger control), and high in vitamins and minerals.
Veggies are also packed with with powerful disease-fighting compounds call phytonutrients. In nature, these colorful compounds protect plants from UV radiation, insect infestation, and microbial damage. Many of the protective benefits carry over to us when we eat and digest these foods.
Scientists have discovered thousands of different phytonutrients in a just about every plant food that you can think of. And they’re just scratching the surface in terms of how many there are and all the different ways that they may be important to optimal health and performance.
Here’s a very cursory overview of some of the links that have been made thus far:
- Isothiocynates found in green vegetables induce liver enzymes that assist in the detoxifying of carcinogens
- Lycopene, found in red vegetables, has antioxidant properties that protect the heart and prostate
- Lutein in orange, yellow and green foods keeps vision sharp
- Catechins found in tea, coffee, grapes, and dark chocolate assist with blood sugar regulation, fend off disease, and provide a metabolic boost
- Onions and garlic contain bioflavonoids and alkyl sulfide linked to protection against heart disease and certain cancers
Since different color vegetables provide an array of phytonutrients, you should incorporate as many types of produce into your routine as your budget and palate will permit. The greater the variety of colors you eat, the better your overall health is likely to be.
If you’re new to eating veggies that don’t rhyme with “trench size” or “catch yup,” start off slowly. Too much fiber too quickly can lead to some gas and G.I. discomfort. Gradually increase to target 2-3 portions (roughly equal to the size of the palm of your hand) of non-starchy vegetables at every meal.