Better living through nature
Mom always said to eat your vegetables. And, as always, Mom was right. Researchers have found that eating green vegetables can help your immune system function at its best this winter.
The study, which appeared in the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, found that when we eat green vegetables, it creates a chemical signal that is vital to a fully functioning, healthy immune system. Researchers found mice that ate more green vegetables had more protective cells and were less likely to get sick. When they did get sick, the mice who ate their veggies recovered more quickly than those who did not eat many greens.
Even though the study hasn’t been applied to humans just yet, there are many other reasons to eat your veggies this winter. Here are a few, from the folks at the United States Department of Agriculture:
• Eating your leafy greens as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce your risk for heart disease, including stroke and heart attack.
• Munching on a few sticks of broccoli regularly can reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
• A diet rich in vegetables may help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. It could also reduce your risk for high blood pressure and kidney stones.
Cooking flavorful vegetable-based dishes, such as this steak stir-fry,
can help add veggies to your diet without your taste buds noticing a thing.
Photo by chuckwaters83/Courtesy Flickr
Of course, your taste buds may not always agree that eating vegetables is what’s best. However, here are some tips to help fit them into your diet:
• Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as vegetable stir-fry or soup. Then, add other foods to complement it.
• Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a quick, easy salad that takes minutes to prepare.
• Include chopped veggies in pasta sauce or lasagna.
• Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads and muffins.
• Grill vegetable kabobs as part of a barbecue meal. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers and onions.
• Try a low-fat salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.
• Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting. Don’t be afraid to try new foods!
Armed with these tips and a little determination, adding more veggies to your diet this winter will be a breeze. Give it a try—your immune system will thank you all year long by keeping your happy and healthy.