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10 Vegetables You Should Have in Your Kitchen, Part 2

From onions to sweet potatoes, last week's blog post covered five veggies you should always have in your kitchen. Today I present five more to add to your grocery list!

I recommend keeping your kitchen stocked with each of these as it comes into season:

  1. Beets. The deep red color of these root vegetables comes from anthocyanins, phytonutrients that protect against damage from carcinogens and may help prevent heart disease. Beets are versatile, inexpensive, and delicious hot or cold. 
  2. Squash. With a wide variety of types, flavors, shapes, and sizes, squash is readily adaptable to any occasion - it can even be used in pie! It provides beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber, nutrients that are necessary for good overall health.
  3. Tomatoes. This red fruit (often considered a vegetable) contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and possibly some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. Use tomatoes in everything from salads to sauces, but know that lycopene is most easily absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked and eaten with a little fat, such as extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Broccoli. This vegetable-platter classic and other cruciferous vegetables offer cancer-protective benefits. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamin K and calcium - both of which help keep bones strong. It is tasty both raw and cooked, and can be a stand out in soups, casseroles, and salads.
  5. Mushrooms. Prized for their tonic effects, mushrooms can help address a host of illnesses. Maitake mushrooms (known as "hen of the woods" for their resemblance to the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen) are particularly valued in Asian cooking, as they have anti-cancer, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties, and may also reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. Shiitake, enokidake and oyster mushrooms also have immune-boosting qualities, and are easily included in many main courses.

10 Vegetables You Should Have in Your Kitchen, Part 1

Vegetables are a natural source of healthful nutrients that can help keep your body running optimally. In this two-part series, find out what vegetables I suggests you have in your kitchen.

Vegetables (and fruits) are the foundation of my Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, and for good reason - fresh produce is the best source of natural nutrients that can help keep your entire body running smoothly. I recommend every healthy kitchen have the following versatile and flavorful favorites on hand:

 

  1. Onions: This classic, pungent vegetable adds depth and richness to any meal. Sulfur compounds found in most varieties of onions may be responsible for its health benefits, including the possible lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure.
  2. Garlic: This fragrant bulb contains many of the same phytonutrients as onions, as well as antibiotic and antiviral compounds. It may help boost the immune system, prevent colds, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and fight fungal infections.
  3. Spinach: This dark leafy green (and others like it, such as kale and collards) contains lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidant carotenoids that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Spinach is also a source of calcium and folate, a B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects. Buy organic spinach, since pesticides are commonly used on conventionally grown varieties.
  4. Cabbage: This low-cost yet highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable contains nutrients called indoles, which may protect against both breast and prostate cancer. It also provides significant amounts of fiber and vitamin C.
  5. Sweet potatoes: Rich in beta carotene, these vegetables may help boost the immune system, deliver vitamin C and folate (which may reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent certain birth defects), and are low on the glycemic index and glycemic load charts.

 

Don't miss my nex blog post for the other five of the 10 Veggies You Should Be Eating.

Is There Radon in Your Kitchen Counters?

Some types of kitchen countertops – including the popular granite styles – may emit a radioactive gas known as radon. Learn more about what radon is, its link to lung cancer, and how to find out if radon is in your countertops.

Radon, a carcinogenic natural radioactive element, is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the breakdown of uranium that seeps out of the earth. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 21,000 lung cancer deaths are caused by radon each year. In the home, radon sometimes enters basements through concrete cracks and becomes concentrated in the air that we breathe. It can also be present in natural materials that are brought into the home - including granite countertops. Some granite and other natural stones contain trace amounts of uranium. If these emit radon, they typically do so at very low levels. But in some instances, tests have found that granite countertops give off potentially dangerous levels of radiation. 

The New York Times reported in July 2008 that the increased popularity of granite countertops over the past decade has resulted in an expansion of the kinds of granite available and that reports of "hot" countertops seem to come from "the more exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia."

The EPA advises that all homes be tested for radon. If significant levels are found, you can take steps to protect your family's health. Visit the EPA's website for more information on testing for radon levels.

What Kind of Cutting Board Do You Use? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed cutting boards and which are the safest to use when cooking in the kitchen: Best Cutting Board? Check out the article and let us know which type of cutting board you use in your kitchen.