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Know your “greens” The importance of vegetables and fruits

Know your “greens” The importance of vegetables and fruits

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A wise vegetarian once said “the food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful source of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

Some of us may wonder why “greens”?

The word GRREEN in our today’s article signifies the vegetables and fruits that plants produce to be consumed by humans.

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History of vegetables

The word vegetable was first recorded in English in the early 15th century. It comes from Old French and was originally applied to all plants; the word is still used in this sense in biological contexts. It derives from Medieval Latin vegetabilis “growing, flourishing” (i.e. of a plant), a semantic change from a Late Latin meaning “to be enlivening, quickening”.

The meaning of “vegetable” as a “plant grown for food” was not established until the 18th century. In 1767, the word was specifically used to mean a “plant cultivated for food, an edible herb or root”. The year 1955 saw the first use of the shortened, slang term “veggie”.

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As an adjective, the word vegetable is used in scientific and technical contexts with a different and much broader meaning, namely of “related to plants” in general, edible or not—as in vegetable matter, vegetable kingdom, vegetable origin.

 it is likely that various peoples around the world started growing crops in the period 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC.[Subsistence agriculture continues to this day, with many rural farmers in Africa, Asia, South America, and elsewhere using their plots of land to produce enough food for their families, while any surplus produce is used for exchange for other goods.

Throughout recorded history, the rich have been able to afford a varied diet including meat, vegetables and fruit, but for poor people, meat was a luxury and the food they ate was very dull, typically comprising mainly some staple product made from rice, rye, barley, wheat, millet or maize. The addition of vegetable matter provided some variety to the diet. The staple diet of the Aztecs in Central America was maize and they cultivated tomatoes, avocados, beans, peppers, pumpkins, squashes, peanuts, and amaranth seeds to supplement their tortillas and porridge. In Peru, the Incas subsisted on maize in the lowlands and potatoes at higher altitudes. They also used seeds from quinoa, supplementing their diet with peppers, tomatoes, and avocados etc.

The importance of vegetables cannot be overemphasized looking from all point of views.

No matter where you look, the food we consume is getting farther away from nature. Grocery store shelves are filled with processed foods with preservatives and additives that are hard to pronounce. When we’re not buying food at the store, it’s a carbohydrate filled diet and fries for dinner. 

When you think about the effect this type of diet can have on your health, it’s troubling. It’s of little wonder the rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases have increased steadily over the last few years.

A spread of many fruits and vegetables you can incorporate into to your diet.

To avoid being part of these statistics, you can start bringing your diet more in line with nature, and that means eating more fruits and vegetables.

We are going to look at some important of vegetables in general, in our diet and in our body.

Importance of vegetables in general

1. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure

Leafy green vegetables are rich in nitrates, which help to manage blood pressure. Some research suggests that eating 1–2 servings of nitrate-rich vegetables every day can reduce hypertension for up to 24 hours.

2. Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and the prevalence is increasing, with the greatest projected increases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). CVD is increasingly becoming a major health burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Between 1990 and 2013 the number of CVD deaths increased by 81% in this region. In 2013, CVD caused 11.3% of deaths in SSA, of which the majority occur under the age of 70 years. With infectious diseases still being a major health burden and the prevalence of CVD and other non-communicable diseases rising, SSA countries are now facing a double burden of disease.

Many vegetables and fruit are particularly rich in vitamin C and in beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. These work as antioxidants in your body, helping to slow down or prevent atherosclerosis by reducing the buildup of plaque from cholesterol and other substances in the arteries.

3. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals

 You won’t find a better nutritional source than fruits and veggies, which are packed with vitamins A, C and E, as well as magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. For potassium, one of the most important minerals for your health, eat plenty of avocados, sweet potatoes, bananas, prunes and even tomato paste puree. Deficiency of one of these vitamins will lead to a wide range of disease.

4. Protect against cancer and other diseases.

 Many vegetables and fruits contain phytochemicals, which are biologically active substances that can help protect against some diseases. That means you can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer by adding them into your diet. Specifically cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, collards and watercress, have been linked to reducing cancer risks.

5. Provides lots and lots of fiber.

Most fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber to fill you up and boost good health, but some have more than others which gives the chance to mix a wide variety of vegetable and fruits to provide the adequate and appropriate amount of fibers. Fiber-rich vegetables include artichokes, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower. High-fiber fruits include raspberries, pears, apples and pumpkin.

Importance of vegetables in our diet 

Veggies, especially green leafy vegetables are an absolute no with the kids. Most of the kids hate eating vegetables and often avoid and munch on various other junk foods. Vegetables are one of the vital foods that must be included in our daily diet as it contains essential nutrients that are important for the child’s health, development and growth.

Lavish spread of foods generally confuses most of us on what to eat, secondly mixing up too many varieties of food items at one meal creates avoidable problems for the digestive system as different kind of digestive secretions are produced by the stomach for variant foods, hence it best to include one or two vegetables that a child likes to eat.

We must know that vegetables are very important protective food and very valuable for prevention of diseases and maintenance of health. They are highly prized for the rich sources of vitamin and mineral contents. They have good amounts of vitamin A, B and C, folate, iron and magnesium.

1. They’re low-calorie and low-fat count

On average, fruits and especially vegetables are very low in calories and fat, which means you, can eat more to keep you feeling full without worrying about extra calories or fat. You can save more than 200 calories by eating half a cup of grapes versus a fourth of a cup of M&Ms.  There are exceptions, such as avocados, olives and coconuts.

2. You get to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures

 With all their unique and interesting flavors, plant-based foods let you get creative in the kitchen.  You can try strong flavors like onions, olives and peppers, or milder options such as mushrooms and corn. For sweet flavors, fruits like pineapple, grapes or plums are great, while lemons and grapefruits are sourer.

3. Low in sodium and cholesterol

Fresh fruits and veggies contain only trace amounts of sodium. Many people think that celery is high in sodium, but in fact, one stalk contains a mere 30mg, which contributes 1 percent to the recommended daily value. Cholesterol doesn’t exist in fruits and veggies at all.

To our health

1.Keeps digestive system healthy and reduces bloating

Veggies help keep your digestive system healthy and functioning optimally, and in doing so, they counteract the bloating effect caused by less nutrient-dense food choices and excess sodium. The healthy doses of potassium and water in vegetables also help flush out unwanted salt and toxins while restoring your body’s healthy fluid balance. The result? You’ll feel great, and you might even look and feel leaner!

2. Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes

Vitamin K is a nutrient you can find in green leafy vegetables like kale, turnip greens, and Swiss chard, and it’s important because it can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Vitamin K may also improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier for the body to keep blood sugar levels in check. Check out these high Vitamin K recipes to load up on your daily intake.

3.Helps your skin look younger and healthier

Vegetables contain phytonutrients, which restore the skin and make it look younger and healthier. Vitamin C in veggies also facilitates collagen formation, which helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and also speeds up the healing of wounds, burns, and other skin problems.

Enjoying fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your health and actually enjoy what you eat. While it may take a little creativity, effort and an open mind to try new things, switching to a diet with more fruits and veggies is definitely worth it!

For more enquiries on the importance of vegetables and fruits

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