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Benefits of vegetables: How to choose, cook and eat them properly

Benefits of vegetables: How to choose, cook and eat them properly Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Vegetables are a crucial part of a healthy diet, providing the body with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. However, not all vegetables are equally beneficial for everyone. The choice, preparation, and consumption of vegetables play a vital role in maintaining optimal health.

Renowned Ukrainian physician and health expert Uliana Verner shared insights in an exclusive interview with RBC-Ukraine on which vegetables to pay attention to and how to consume them for maximum health benefits.

Health benefits of different vegetables

Vegetables vary in their nutritional value, and some types can be particularly beneficial in specific situations.

Leafy greens (spinach, cilantro, arugula): Rich in vitamin K, folic acid, and antioxidants, these greens contribute to bone health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Broccoli: Packed with potassium, folic acid, and antioxidants, broccoli promotes heart health by lowering harmful cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and enhancing vascular function.

Onions and garlic: These contain specific phytonutrients that support the immune system and help reduce inflammation.

Root vegetables (carrots, beets, celery): These vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, carrots are abundant in beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), beets contain folic acid, and celery is a source of vitamin K and potassium.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart diseases and improve vascular function. It lowers "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and supports healthy blood pressure.

Choosing vegetables according to your needs

The choice of vegetables may depend on your age, gender, physical activity, and other factors.

For children and adolescents: It's essential to provide their bodies with a variety of vitamins and minerals for growth and development. Colorful vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and sweet peppers are crucial additions to their diet.

For adults: Variety is key to obtaining multifaceted benefits. Asparagus, cabbage, and pumpkin are excellent choices for a balanced diet.

For the elderly: With age, appetite and the ability to absorb nutrients may decrease. Easily digestible vegetables like broccoli and onions can be excellent choices.

Preparation and consumption of vegetables

Raw vegetables: Consuming raw vegetables preserves the maximum amount of vitamins and folic acid.

Cooked vegetables: Other vegetables (carrots, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, corn) are best cooked, as this enhances the availability of some nutrients. However, do not overcook them; short cooking methods like steaming, boiling, and baking retain more beneficial compounds.

Diversity throughout the day: Incorporate vegetables into all your main meals, including salads, soups, and side dishes.

Seasonal vegetables: Opt for seasonal vegetables, as they are often fresher, tastier, and more affordable.

Moderate consumption of certain vegetables

While most vegetables are healthy, a few should be consumed in moderation.

Potatoes: Despite containing vitamins and minerals, potatoes are starchy and can raise blood sugar levels.

Corn: Corn has a high starch and sugar content, making it important to limit its consumption, especially for those with diabetes or weight concerns.

Canned vegetables: These products may contain excessive amounts of sugar and salt, which can be harmful in large quantities.

Vegetables are a vital component of a healthy diet, but the choice and preparation must consider individual needs and conditions. Incorporating a variety of vegetables into your diet, following proper cooking methods, and consuming specific types responsibly will help maximize the health benefits for your well-being.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.