'Eat your vegetables' is probably the most oft-quoted parental mantra to kids at meal time - and for good reason.
One of the best ways to improve your health is to eat plenty of high-quality vegetables--ideally organic produce grown locally.
That's all well and good, but what if you can't find or afford organic produce?
A study carried out by an environmental working group showed that sweet bell peppers, celery, lettuce, spinach and potatoes had the highest residual pesticide loads, making them the most important to buy organic.
In contrast, broccoli, eggplant (aubergine), asparagus, sweet peas, cabbage and onions had the lowest.
At Kenzai, trainees often ask us which vegetables to eat. A wide variety is best. Bright vibrant colors are good, and often the simplest preparations are the healthiest. In short, not all veggies are created equal.
But which vegetables rank at the top of my recommended veggies list?
Here's my list of the top five 'super veggies' for healthy bodies:
1) Carrots: the vibrant color indicates high levels of carotenoids, powerful compounds that have been linked to a reduced risk of certain types of cancer and eye disease. Those old tales about eating carrots to see in the dark may have some truth after all - though not in the literal sense! Carrots pack a punch vitamin-wise too. One cup meets both your daily vitamin A and C requirements.
2) Onions: cheap and cheerful, the basic onion is considered an essential base for many culinary dishes. Onions can be excellent for your health; recent studies found that regular doses of onion skin can actually help lower blood pressure.
3) Watercress: this lovely leaf contains a very important nutrient called lutein. Lutein is a recognized antioxidant that can help keep your eyes, skin and heart healthy. Watercress is a great choice especially if you’re in a training cycle. In a study published in 2013, researchers found that those athletes who consumed watercress prior to workouts recovered better than others who didn't.
4) Parsley: often used as a garnish, parsley is a great choice to add some spice and variety to salads and dishes. It's loaded with nutrients and especially heavy in folate which studies have suggested could help reduce the risk of heart disease.
5) Potatoes: boiled, mashed, roasted, crushed - so many ways to enjoy this wonderful vegetable. Packed with more potassium than a banana and a good low fat choice, the potato continues to be an endless source of dietary goodness that can serve as the base for many culinary delights!
By: Sara Pittman // Kenzai Assistant Trainer & Member