The Importance of Fresh Vegetables

“Eat your vegetables!” How many times did we all hear it from our mothers? The word “vegetable” is used to describe edible plant parts, such as leaves, roots, fruits, and seeds.” Throughout the world, vegetables are a staple diet and an essential component of contemporary agriculture.

Most health professionals advise eating veggies daily because they are low in calories yet high in nutrients. There is scientific agreement that one of the greatest methods to acquire nutrients from your food starting at a young age is to eat a balanced, rotating diet of different vegetables.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Joe Latina Center has an Organic Garden to supplement the shelf-stable food from our pantry. Fresh organic produce is included in the boxes distributed by the pantry, ensuring that the low-income families in Temple Terrace whom we serve receive the most nutritious groceries we can provide.

The Many Benefits of Fresh Vegetables in your Diet

Vegetables are packed with vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that offer your body significant health benefits:

  • They are the ultimate source of nutrition.

Folate, a B vitamin that helps your body create new red blood cells, is abundant in vegetables. Folate is particularly crucial for children’s health and may help lower the chances of depression and cancer.

  • They improve blood pressure.

According to the CDC, high blood pressure affects more than half of all Americans. Eating too much salt is not good for your diet or blood pressure. However, consuming more foods high in potassium helps lessen the harm caused by a high-sodium diet. Among other nutrients, plants like spinach and beets provide potassium, and veggie fiber is good for your heart.

  • They improve eye health.

According to the American Optometric Association, if you gaze at a computer or phone all day, which might strain your eyes, eye health may be a concern for you. Eat more veggies if you want to safeguard your eyes; you should also take breaks from your screen and visit an eye doctor.

Two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Basil, corn, red peppers, spinach, and broccoli contain them and other eye-protecting carotenoids.

  • They increase your fiber intake.

Most of us do not consume enough fiber daily – recommended amounts are 25g for women and 38g for men. You can obtain enough of this important vitamin by consuming high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and, yes, vegetables.

Fiber benefits your heart and digestive system, helps you feel full and lowers your risk of diabetes. Since fiber is present in all veggies, pick a variety to get your fill. A list of foods with more fiber per serving than an apple includes artichokes, sweet potatoes, and peas.

  • They improve your heart health.

In America, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, and food significantly impacts heart health. You can get potassium and fiber from vegetables, which benefits your heart.

Including a lot of vegetables in your diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which relieves some of the strain on your heart. Our list of the top heart-healthy foods includes leafy greens, avocados, and tomatoes, but all vegetables are good for your heart.

  • Vegetables Can Be a Good Source of Protein.

There are other sources of protein outside meat, which is good news for vegetarians, those on special diets, and people who don’t consume a lot of meat. Many vegetables are high in protein.

Most vegetables at the top of that list are beans, such as soybeans, pinto and lima beans. Spinach, brussels sprouts, avocado, and sweet corn are further options. Consider bok choy if you want even more diversity.

  • Consuming Veggies Can Help Your Mental Health.

Vegetables have been found to improve mental health. A 2020 study found that eating various fruits and vegetables tends to lower depression and anxiety while increasing optimism. Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and kale were particularly well-represented in this study.

Another study has demonstrated that eating these vegetables raw or minimally cooked can improve their beneficial effects. In particular, this holds for cucumbers and carrots.

  • Vegetables Promote Gut Health.

A high vegetable diet and a wider variety of veggies can help your gut health because of the antioxidants and high fiber content in vegetables. In addition to promoting regular digestion, a healthy gut also enhances immunity, mental well-being, and the ability to fend off many chronic illnesses.

Salads have more advantages than you would realize. Again, leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard are essential for preserving a healthy body and intestines. The more variety available, the better.

The Research that Supports Eating Fresh Vegetables

A literature review reveals convincing and strong evidence that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables significantly lowers the risk of developing several cancer types. There is strong evidence that a diet high in fiber and low in fat that reduces body fat will significantly lower the risk for many malignancies.

Australia’s top health body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, acknowledges the link between a low fruit and vegetable diet and an increased chance of developing cancer.

Moreover, fruits and vegetables have an alkalizing impact and contain vitamins that are good for bone health and prevent fractures.

The evidence overwhelmingly favors encouraging eating fruits and vegetables and an adequate calcium intake as a powerful barrier to maximizing peak bone mass and reducing bone loss and fracture risk.

Additionally, strong evidence supports the idea that dietary adjustments that maximize nutrients can lower the chance of illness onset. Foods including celery, cucumber, endive, parsley, radish, and beans have been said to have valuable medicinal characteristics and are frequently referred to as Superfoods.

Essential vitamins are abundant in fruits and vegetables. Include fruits and vegetables in your meals and snacks to obtain the nutrients you need to feel well and lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.

It’s also important to set a good example. Children pick up things from watching their parents, and the dietary habits they develop as children can endure a lifetime. Make it a point to share fresh fruits and veggies with your kids while also sharing your personal preferences. For a healthier future, help your children develop healthy eating behaviors.

Garden Volunteers Needed

The St. Vincent de Paul Society Joe Latina Center operates an Organic Garden – teaching, empowering, and growing together as we share the bounty of God. Our vision is to grow real food and harvest wellness through an organic, nutrient-dense whole food garden; healing the mind, body and spirit.

Volunteers with the following qualifications are needed to help:

Love of outdoors

Gardening skills from novice to expert

Creativity, Passion, and Selflessness

Reliability and Commitment

Garden Volunteer Opportunities:

Gardening: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 9 – 11:30 am
Harvest and Distribution: Saturday 8:30 -11 am

If you are interested in volunteering, call 813-899-4603.

Recipe of the Month: Easy Bean Omelet

Cooking on a budget for your family can be a challenge.  Try this tasty, nutritious, and affordable recipe to lure your gang off their screens around the dinner table.

Easy Bean Omelet

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14oz) of black beans
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce, optional

Directions:

  1. Drain the black beans and mince the onion.
  2. Crack open the eggs and whisk in a bowl. Add the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet and add the cooking oil. Add the beans and cook for 3-4 minutes over a medium flame. Lower the flame to low.
  4. Add the butter, and once melted, add the eggs. Stir once to incorporate.
  5. Allow the omelet to cook, and once cooked on one side, fold or roll gently with a spatula. Serve immediately and slice.
  6. Serve with a side of hot sauce!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 616
  • Carbs: 63.6g
  • Protein 39.6g
  • Fat 23.5g

Car Credit is proud to support the wonderful work of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Joe Latina Center in Temple Terrace. Tampa philanthropist, Steve Cuculich, owner of Car Credit, understands the challenges faced by low-income families and has worked for close to 20 years supporting organizations that serve newcomers to the US and other struggling families. Click here to find out more.