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Fruits, Roots and Vegies
the healthy choice - so have your fill

Vegies continued

It is apparently an excellent source of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes; and has vitamins C, B6, K, plus potassium and folate. There's fibre a-plenty - maybe a bit too much when it gets old and stringy. It used to be thought that wrapping the stalks when growing to keep them white was the way to go; then someone realised green was good; and now we all benefit. Hot or cold, and even popped in a drink as a swizzle-stick, celery has to be something of a quiet achiever.

When our son visited and noticed a bunch of garlic hanging outside the back door, he asked if we had vampires. As it happened, we didn't, so it must have worked. Maybe that was to do with the fact that garlic is enriched with Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc. If that lot didn't send Dracula on his way, it could have been the high sulphur content, giving it antibiotic properties and helping to keep the digestive system clean by flushing out toxins - must have done something to the blood, too? It is also said that its medicinal value is higher when consumed raw. Heavy breathing after that certainly ought to keep the Count and other virus-carrying individuals well away.

Beans and peas seem to contain most of the usual vitamins and minerals; but the seeds from the mature plants are richer sources. Often dried, these can be rehydrated overnight in a bowl of water, then slow-cooked the following day. I guess sacks of them would have been an essential on board the olden-day chuck wagons. The immature, green legumes are still tasty, though, and they have loads of fibre which takes a while to break down in the digestive system, keeping the hunger pangs away for longer. Low in saturated fat and calories, having them several times a week promotes bowel regularity and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.

It is said that, as a good source of plant protein, legumes are an ideal meat substitute, especially as they are cholesterol-free and contain no saturated fat. So, instead of a quarter pounder, how about a bean burger with onions and salad?

I read that: "the phytochemicals in onions along with their vitamin C help improve immunity" - that sounds like a line from Star Trek. Then, I learned that they also "contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar"; and presumably prevents one from going rusty. According to the same source, "raw onion lowers the production of bad cholesterol". AND, onion juice applied to a bee sting provides "immediate relief from the pain and burning sensation."

But wait - there's more. "Onions scavenge free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of developing gastric ulcers". That would seem to fly in the face of the fact that they can cause indigestion; but then there's always Alka Seltzer.

My opinion - I reckon onions are great; and there aren't too many meals I cook without them.

Presumably Popeye could see real well, because spinach promotes healthy vision. The lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments that accumulate in the retina of the eye, are capable of absorbing blue light and can prevent a considerable amount of it from reaching structures of the eye involved in vision. Late night I-padders should always keep a bowl of spinach handy.

It also contains Vitamin A, another essential for functions in normal vision. Apparently, a deficiency of this vitamin leads to a condition called "night blindness." Apart from promoting healthy vision, spinach can help regulate the production of red blood cells and the normal functioning of the immune system. As a very green vegie, it also has vitamin K; so the same rule applies with respect to blood-clotting and anyone taking Warfarin.

The final few do need a mention; but they may have issues for some people.

Although Sweet Corn is a gluten-free cereal, it contains about 86 calories per 100 g - not ideal for weight-watchers - and it is high GI, so is not advisable for diabetes patients.

Like some other green vegetables, Lettuce and cucumbers also contain vitamin K; but they do have plenty of fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Having a high water content, they are an ideal re-hydrating food, especially on a hot summer's day.

A word of warning about ALL fruits, roots and vegies - wash them well before use. And if they are available and your budget can handle it, go for organic where possible. Chemical residue is always going to be a worry, especially with those fruits that are waxed for protection during handling and transport. These waxes - there a number of different ones - can trap residue and are difficult to remove. Peeling is probably the only safe way; but much of the skin's nutrient qualities are then lost.

So, if you can buy locally from smaller growers when their crops are in season and picked daily, it is a better, healthier option. As for out-of-season cold store stuff, that's your choice, but I wouldn't touch it with a forty-foot pole!

I said this article was going to be long; despite which it is nowhere near comprehensive. There's a mine of information about fruits, roots and vegies available on Google, if you really want to know more. Most of it, however, seems to confirm that these foodstuffs are miraculously and totally necessary for good health; and if you reckon they taste good, just enjoy in the knowledge that all of the vitamins, minerals and tongue-twisting compounds are quietly doing their job.

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