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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.

Why Men Should Eat More Veggies

Attention men: Need another reason to eat your vegetables? Find out what vegetables can do for your prostate – and ways to get more veggies into your diet!

Research indicates that men who eat plenty of soluble fiber have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Heart-healthy fiber can be found in fresh produce, steel cut or rolled oats and beans, but fiber from vegetables was shown to be the most beneficial for prostate health.

How to achieve this feat? Be adventurous! Replace meat with beans and hearty root vegetables in soup and casserole recipes; make a vegetable-based casserole the main dish at dinner; order a veggie pizza instead of a meat version; and include a fresh, organic vegetable salad with lunch and dinner. All taste good…and are good for you.

 

Fruits and Vegetables for Your Head

The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the higher the odds that you'll be as healthy mentally as you are physically. This conclusion comes from research at Britain's University of Warwick, which showed that good mental health was consistently linked to fruit and vegetable consumption among both men and women. Analyzing data from nearly 14,000 adults who participated in the Health Survey for England, the investigators found that 33.5 percent of those identified as having a high level of mental well-being ate five or more fruit and vegetables daily, compared to 6.8 percent of the mentally fit who ate less than one serving daily. The researchers explained that remarkable mental well-being is not merely the absence of mental health problems - it is strongly linked to optimism, happiness, high self-esteem, resilience and good relationships. Smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption were all lifestyle factors linked to low mental well-being, a condition associated with mental health problems.

My take: The suggestion that we can influence our mental fitness through diet is good news. In 2012, University of Warwick researchers reported that eating seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day was associated with increased mental health and happiness. My anti-inflammatory diet calls for eating four to five servings of vegetables and three to four servings of fruit per day to reduce inflammation in the body. It is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious physical and mental illnesses - including heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer's disease. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins (such as secondhand tobacco smoke) can all contribute to such chronic inflammation, but dietary choices play a big role as well. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the healthier - and, perhaps, happier - you're likely to be.

What Fruits and Vegetables Do You Always Peel? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed if peeling the skin from fruits and vegetables also removes the nutrients of the produce: Peel Away Nutrients? Check out the article and let us know what fruits and vegetables you peel the skin from before eating.

Surprising Veggie Storage Strategy

Taking veggies out of your refrigerator and exposing them to light for 12 hours a day helps boost their anti-cancer effectsIf you want to get a little more nutritional bang for your buck from vegetables, don’t let them languish in the dark. A new study from Rice University suggests that taking veggies out of your refrigerator and exposing them to light for 12 hours a day helps boost their anti-cancer effects and that eating them four and eight hours later gives you the benefit of those effects.