The Power of Land Vegetables
In most traditional cultures, vegetables are an essential food, served together with whole grains and legumes. An important source of fiber, fat, and antioxidants, vegetables are also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, all the B vitamins, C, and K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. Vegetables provide generous nutritional value, especially relative to how low they are in calories compared to other food groups.
A veggie-packed diet promotes overall well-being. Vegetables have phytonutrients that are powerful in preventing diseases. Most nutritionists recommend that children eat at least three to five servings of vegetables a day, and that two- to three-year-olds eat one cup of vegetables a day. Vegetables’ high concentration of fiber aids digestion and helps prevent stagnation and disease. Their alkaline-producing properties also neutralize acidity in your baby’s body.
The Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study did the largest and longest study to date on the benefits of vegetables. For 14 years, they followed the health and dietary habits of 110,000 men and women. Those who averaged eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, and the higher the daily average intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Dark leafy green vegetables, such as arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, and turnip greens, appeared to have the most positive health impacts.
Most chronic diseases generate from an excess of macronutrients and a deficiency of micronutrients. Particularly during your baby’s developmental stages, he needs to receive both macronutrients, as well as micronutrients from a variety of whole grains and vegetables. A helpful guideline for providing these micronutrients is to “eat the rainbow”—to integrate colors across the spectrum from deep-green broccoli to bright-orange carrots, and from purple beets to golden grains. There is no white in a rainbow—white foods are often refined or processed, and typically high on the glycemic index. Offering a variety of colorful veggies will ensure that your baby establishes a strong foundation for a healthy heart, digestive system, and long-term vitality.