Author's Perspective: I never really cared much for vegetables, even though we ate a lot of vegetables growing up. My father had a garden and our uncle had a farm out in the country. So, we always had fresh vegetables.
But, I didn't realize how powerful these foods were until I ended up in a diabetic coma and my mother showed up, telling me that I needed to eat more of God's foods (e.g. vegetables). Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when my health started to improve by eating lots of vegetables, thanks to my mother ... :-)
Vegetables: The Super Foods
Vegetables are super foods because they are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids.
Vegetables are super foods because they are rich in fiber, an important nutrient for blood sugar control, weight loss and regular bowel movement; and, for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Vegetables also contain a lot of water, which helps to keep your cells hydrated.
These nutrients in vegetable super foods help to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Key nutrients in vegetable super foods include antioxidants like beta-carotene, Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, lutein, and zeaxanthin; and, other nutrients such as chlorophyll, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.
Given this abundance of nutrients, vegetable super foods, more so than any other food, should be included in every meal, especially if you want to reverse your diabetes and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are converted to Vitamin A in the body, contribute to the growth and repair of the body’s tissues. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids may also protect us from certain cancers and also protect the skin against sun damage.
Calcium helps keep your teeth and bones strong and reduces your overall risk for osteoporosis. Calcium also contributes to muscle function and blood-pressure management.
Chlorophyll binds with toxic metals to hamper absorption, and research has shown it can do the same with some carcinogens. In addition, chlorophyll provides antioxidant support and promotes wound healing.
Folate can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss. And since folate contributes to the production of serotonin, it may help ward off depression and improve mood.
Fiber (soluble) helps to absorb cholesterol into the bile while insoluble fiber absorb excess water in the colon, retains a good amount of moisture in the fecal matter, and help its smooth passage out of the body.
Consequently, sufficient fiber offers protection from conditions like high cholesterol, constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and rectal fissures.
Lutein and zeaxanthin help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Potassium helps to protect against osteoporosis and helps manage blood pressure levels.
B-Complex Vitamins help with metabolism, producing energy and forming red blood cells.
Vitamin C helps the body make collagen. Collagen is a major component of cartilage that aids in joint flexibility, may reduce your risk of arthritis, and keeps your skin and hair healthy and beautiful. Research shows vitamin C may also slow bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures.
Vitamin E works with vitamin C to help protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and may help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin E (and Vitamin C) help to keep skin healthy as you age by protecting us free radical damage.
Vitamin K helps to regulate normal blood clotting.
Antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds in vegetables can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.
Health Benefits of Vegetable Super Foods
Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have:
- Higher antioxidant levels
- Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress
- Lower biomarkers for inflammation and cardiac risk factors
- Lower number of advanced glycated end products (AGEs)
- Lower risks of stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease
- Lower risks of certain types of cancer, eye diseases and digestive problems
- Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss
- Higher scores on cognitive tests
In addition, people who have a disease (such as Type 2 diabetes or heart disease) are able to reverse their disease by consuming more vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods.
Top 10 Vegetable Super Foods That Help to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Eating these vegetables on a regular basis can help a person with Type 2 diabetes better manage and control his/her diabetes; and, possibly, reverse their diabetes and prevent the onset of major complications such as amputation and blindness.
These vegetables provide health benefits in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, and healthy fats. In addition, all of these vegetables are inexpensive and readily available in most grocery stores and health food stores.
These vegetables provide key nutrients to the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, blood, and other key organs throughout the body. As a result, these foods help to prevent and fight many of the top diseases and illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and chronic fatigue.
The following Top 10 List of Vegetables has grown, based on new research and clinical findings:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
Artichokes are a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD). Copper is required in the production of red blood cells; and, iron is required for red blood cell formation.
Artichokes are rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as folate, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
Artichokes also contain Vitamin C, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body. Artichokes contain Vitamin K, which supports bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation) activity. Adequate Vitamin K levels help limit neuron damage in the brain, which may help people with Alzheimer's disease.
Artichokes are also a good source of antioxidant compounds such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect itself from harmful free-radical agents.
Artichokes contain fiber and compounds cynarin and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these compounds not just inhibit cholesterol synthesis but also increase its excretion in the bile, and thus, help overall reduction in the total cholesterol levels in the blood.
Asparagus spears are a good source of anti-oxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, carotenes, and crypto-xanthins. Together, these flavonoid compounds help remove harmful oxidant free radicals from the body protect it from possible cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases, and viral infections.
Asparagus is a good source of minerals, especially copper and iron; and, has small amounts of essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.
Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD). Copper is required in the production of red blood cells; and, iron is required for cellular respiration and red blood cell formation.
Asparagus is rich in B-complex vitamins such as folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid. These group of vitamins are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.
Fresh asparagus also contains fair amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Regular consumption of foods rich in these vitamins helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Asparagus contains moderate levels of dietary fiber, which helps control constipation, decreases bad (LDL) cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines, and regulates blood sugar levels. Studies suggest that a high-fiber diet help cut down colorectal cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.
Avocados are very high in monounsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. Monounsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health.
Avocados may also increase levels of good cholesterol. A 1996 study in the journal Archives of Medical Research found that patients with mild hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) who incorporated avocados into their diet for one week had a 22 percent decrease in bad cholesterol and triglycerides and an 11 percent increase in good cholesterol
Avocados contain many essential vitamins and minerals, including being a good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin K and fiber, which aids digestion and helps maintain regularity. Additionally, avocados are high in magnesium, phosphorus, iron and potassium, containing even more potassium per gram than bananas. The high levels of potassium can help keep blood pressure under control.
Avocados support the immune system by being a good source of the powerful antixoidant glutathione. Avocados contain lycopene and beta-carotene, with the highest concentration of these antioxidants located in the dark green flesh closest to the peel
Avocados also have a high percentage of protein (4 grams), which, in combination with the good fats and soluble fiber, help to regulate blood sugars.
Broccoli contains many phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates and flavonoids like beta-carotene cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin. Studies have shown that these compounds help protect against prostate, colon, urinary bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancers.
Broccoli is exceptionally rich source of vitamin C; and, contains very good amounts of another antioxidant, vitamin A. Together with other pro-vitamins like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and zea-xanthin, vitamin A helps in maintaining the integrity of skin and mucusa. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eye-sight and helps prevent macular degeneration of the retina in the elderly population.
Broccoli is an excellent source of carotenoids (like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and zea-xanthin), vitamin A, vitamin K and B-complex vitamins like folate, niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin. Further, its florets also hold some amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Furthermore, broccoli is also a good source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus.
Brussels sprouts contain several flavonoid antioxidants such as thiocyanates, indoles, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Together, these phytochemicals offer protection from prostate, colon, and endometrial cancers.
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and and zeaxanthin, which help protect the body and the eyes (retina) from harmful free radicals, which cause age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the elderly.
Further, the sprouts are notably good in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, pantothenic acid, etc., that are essential for substrate metabolism inside the human body.
Brussels sprouts are also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Brussels sprouts are incredibly nutritious vegetables that offer protection from vitamin-A deficiency, bone loss, iron-deficiency anemia, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and colon and prostate cancers.
Tip 1: It is very important not to overcook Brussels sprouts (or any vegetable). Not only do they lose their nutritional value and taste but they will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooked cruciferous vegetables. To help Brussels sprouts cook more quickly and evenly cut each sprout into quarters. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and then steam them for 5 minutes. Serve with our Honey Mustard Dressing to add extra tang and flavor to Brussels sprouts.
Tip 2: Another option is to coat the cut sprouts with extra virgin coconut oil and bake them on a cookie sheet. You'll be amazed at the flavor!
Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage is a storehouse of phytochemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates. These compounds are powerful antioxidants and known to help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.
Fresh cabbage is an excellent source of natural antioxidant, vitamin C, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Cabbage is also rich in essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). Cabbage also contains an adequate amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
Cauliflower contains several anti-cancer phytochemicals like sulforaphane and plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol, which appears to function as an anti-estrogen agent. Together, these compounds have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
Furthermore, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble compound present abundantly in Brassica group of vegetables, including cauliflower, has found to be effective as immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent. This compound brings out these functions by virtue of its ability to synthesize and potentiate Interferon-Gamma receptors at the cellular level.
Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C; and, contains good amounts of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3) as well as vitamin K. These vitamins are essential for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Cauliflower is also good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.
Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K, a key nutrient for bone and blood health. Celery also contains vitamin A and folate.
Celery contains non-starch polysaccharides (i.e. apiuman) that provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Unlike starchy polysaccharides that provide plants with a way to store simple sugars, these non-starch polysaccharides in celery help provide this vegetable with its unique structure and are not made from simple sugars but rather from pectins.
These pectin-based polysaccharides and flavonoids in celery provide a decreased risk of inflammation in the cardiovascular system.
In addition to well-known antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene and flavonoids, scientists have now identified at least a dozen other types of antioxidant nutrients in celery. These antioxidants have been shown to help protect us against unwanted oxidative damage to our cells, blood vessels, and organ systems.
Celery contains phytonutrients (i.e. phthalides), which act as smooth muscle relaxants, most likely through their impact on the flow of calcium and potassium inside cells and related nervous system activity involved with muscle relaxation. Relaxation of smooth muscles surrounding our blood vessels (called vasodilation) allows them to expand and the result is a lowering of our blood pressure.
These phthalides in celery may also act as diuretics, further helping to lower the pressure inside our blood vessels.
Note: Most of the research involving the muscle-relaxant and blood pressure-lowering properties of celery phthalides has been done with celery seeds, celery oil, and celery extracts - not the whole food itself.
Note: Men’s Health revealed celery is loaded with pheromones, chemicals that promote a healthy sex mood for both men and women. The effect is nearly immediate.
Tip: If you get tired of eating celery raw, try roasted. Just chop the stalks into 1-inch lengths, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then bake them in a hot oven until the edges brown.
Collard greens contain a very good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.
Collards are rich in invaluable sources of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A and carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein, carotenes, zea-xanthin, crypto-xanthin, etc. Collards are rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folate and riboflavin.
Further, the leaves and stems are good in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.
Note: Other healthy greens include mustard and turnip greens.
Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps to reduce constipation, stabilize blood sugars; and, offers some protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.
Cucumber is a very good source of potassium, an important intracellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte helps bring a reduction in total blood pressure and heart rates by countering effects of sodium.
Cucumbers contains unique antioxidants in moderate ratios such as ß-carotene and a-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, zeaxanthin and lutein.
Cucumbers have a mild diuretic effect, due to its water, potassium and low sodium content. This helps in checking weight gain and high blood pressure.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. As a result, garlic provides many health benefits to the cardiovascular system, immune system, endocrine system, and other systems in the body.
Garlic helps diabetics by fighting against the oxidative stress and free-radical damage produced by high blood sugar. In fact, the antioxidants in garlic may prevent diabetic complications like heart disease and kidney disease.
Kale, like other members of the Brassica family, contains health-promoting phytochemicals, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol to protect against prostate and colon cancers.
Kale is a very rich source of ß-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A, vitamin K and the B-Complex vitamins. Kale is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
Nutrients in kale offer protection from vitamin A deficiency, osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and are believed to protect the body from cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and colon and prostate cancers.
Lettuce, especially Romaine lettuce, isan excellent source of several Vitamin A and beta carotenes. Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin K; and, a good source of vitamin B-Complex, vitamin C, and folate.
Regular inclusion of lettuce in salads is known to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, ARMD, Alzheimer's disease and cancers.
Okra pods are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; and, is often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction, and blood sugar control programs.
The okra pods are one of the rich sources of mucilage substance that helps in smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut and ease constipation condition.
Okra is a rich source of minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium; and, vitamins including the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A and anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. It is one of the vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants.
Onions contain phytochemical compounds called allium and alyl disulphide, which convert into allicin by enzymatic reaction when crushed or cut.
Studies have shown that these compounds have anti-mutagenic (protects from cancers) and anti-diabetic properties (helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics).
Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, onions have been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.
Additionally, allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by facilitating the release of nitric oxide (NO) and thereby brings a reduction in the total blood pressure. Further, it blocks platelet clot formation, and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels. Altogether, it helps decrease in overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
Onions are a rich source of chromium, a trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels in the blood. It thus helps facilitate insulin action and control sugar levels in diabetes.
Onions are also good source of vitamin C, vitamin B-Complex, and the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, which is found to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic functions.
Spinach holds a good amount of soluble dietary fiber, which helps in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
Fresh 100 g of spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron; one of the richest among green leafy vegetables. Iron is an important trace element required by the human body for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for oxidation-reduction enzyme, cytochrome-oxidase during the cellular metabolism.
Spinach is a rich source of several vital antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a healing role in aging and various disease processes.
This green leafy vegetable is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids; and, also, contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins and minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.
Tomatoes are an excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; and, is usually recommended by dietitians and nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction diet programs.
The vitamin C and antioxidants present in tomatoes are scientifically found to be protective against cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic tumors.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, a unique phytochemical compound that is more readily absorbed when tomatoes are cooked into a paste with some olive oil.
Together with tomatoes'carotenoids, lycopene may help protect cells and other structures in the human body from harmful free radicals. Studies shows that lycopene protects the skin from ultra-violet (UV) rays and thus offers some defense against skin cancer.
Zeaxanthin is another flavonoid compound present abundantly in this vegetable. Zeaxanthin helps protect eyes from "age-related macular related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly persons by filtering harmful ultra-violet rays.
Tomatoes contain very good levels of vitamin A, and anti-oxidants such as a and ß-carotenes, xanthins and lutein. Altogether, these pigment compounds are found to have antioxidant properties and support night vision; and, help protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
Tomatoes are very rich in potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Further, tomatoes contain average levels of vital B-complex vitamins such as folates, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin as well some essential minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and other trace elements.
Other Healthy Vegetables
Other vegetables that provide multiple health benefits include arugula, bell peppers, celery, dandelion greens, endive, mushrooms, mustard greens, parsley, radish, squash, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, and watercress.
Beets and carrots are also healthy vegetables because of their phytonutrient content, but, you should be careful with their use because of their sugar content.
For more information about vegetables, refer to the Vegetables web page.
Less Healthy Vegetables
Vegetables that should be used sparingly, especially if you're diabetic, include eggplant, jicama, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.
Vegetables that diabetics should avoid include white potatoes and corn.
How to Increase Nutrient Power of Vegetables
If you want to boost the nutrient power of vegetables, then eat organic, juice, sprout, and/or ferment vegetables.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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