Eat Them. They’re Good for You!

Do you remember hearing your parents or grandparents telling you this at mealtime: ‘Eat them. They’re good for you.’? It was all about eating right, especially your vegetables and not so much meant for punishment. Most often children don’t like eating vegetables, and will fight it to the bitter end. What children don’t understand is that nutrients reside in the small, invisible chemicals in food – chemicals that nourish the body and promote great health and wellness. Since March is National Nutrition Month (sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) it’s about time to get ‘up close and personal’ with these life promoting chemicals.

Just how many nutrients reside in the food you eat? There are actually countless amounts of them but they all belong to one of six basic categories: carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. They can also be divided into two major groups: non-essential and essential.

Non-essential nutrients like glucose, cholesterol and vitamin D are not insignificant to our health, but since the cells of your body can make them they are rarely in short supply. Essential nutrients are extremely critical because your body cannot make them in adequate amounts. So you must rely on your diet to ensure you take in enough of them, and that is where vegetables come into the picture. You simply cannot find another food group that is as perfectly matched to your body’s everyday essential needs.

Vegetables fit us like a glove because they contain nutrients from each of the six basic categories, and those nutrients cannot be duplicated by any other food group. Being so low in calories, it is impossible to gain weight by eating too many of them. They are high in fiber and rich sources of B-complex and C vitamins – vitamins that your body cannot store. That is why so many health care experts encourage everyone to eat at least 3-5 servings of vegetables every day.

Vegetables are nutritious for your body in other ways too. They contain no cholesterol, which potentially lowers the risk of heart disease. Also, they help to maintain healthy blood pressure, and are important for proper bowel function. They help form red blood cells, keep your eyes and skin healthy, protect against infection, heal cuts and wounds, and keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Because vegetables contain so many health benefits it’s important that you remain persistent in your efforts to eat them. Hopefully, the next time you’re introduced to a helping of vegetables, you won’t turn your back on them. Your body will have many reasons to thank you for making such an essential decision. So, eat them! They’re good for you.

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