Vegetables are loaded with nutrients, and as healthy as they are for you, there are ways to make your vegetables even healthier. Of course, you can go to the grocery store and buy a head of kale with the knowledge that you are getting something extremely nutritious. However, even though kale and other vegetables are healthy, there are still ways to make your vegetables even healthier.
1 Pay Attention to Color
One of the ways to make your vegetables even healthier is to pay attention to their color. For example, when you are buying loose leaf or romaine lettuce, the red varieties will always be healthier. Similarly, red beets have more phytonutrients than gold beets. If you like corn, choose yellow corn over white corn. It has 58 times more carotenoids than white corn!
2 Choose Fresh Vegetables
Fresh vegetables have many more nutrients than vegetables that have been sitting around for a while. To make sure you are getting the freshest vegetables possible, buy whole heads of lettuce and greens instead of packaged ones. Also, purchase beets and carrots that still have their leaves attached. When getting broccoli, look for a firm and bright green stem and florets that are not yellow. If you choose the freshest veggies, you will get the most nutrition!
3 Pick the Right Variety
Believe it or not, the variety of vegetable you choose can make a big difference in terms of nutrients. When it comes to tomatoes, smaller tomatoes are much healthier. Cherry tomatoes have more vitamin C and lycopene than beefsteak tomatoes. Purple passion asparagus has 3 times more antioxidants than green asparagus! In both cases, not only will you be getting more nutrition by getting a different variety, cherry tomatoes and purple asparagus also taste better than beefsteak tomatoes and green asparagus.
How you store your vegetables can make a big difference in terms of how many nutrients they retain. Lettuce should always be stored in Ziploc bags that have had the air removed and holes poked in them. This allows a little air to get in, but not too much. Unlike lettuce, tomatoes should never be stored in the fridge. In the fridge, tomatoes will lose flavor and nutritional value.
When preparing and cooking your vegetables, there are certain things you can do to make sure they retain their nutritional benefits. For example, garlic should be chopped and allowed to sit for 10 minutes before exposing it to heat. This allows the beneficial compound, allicin, to develop. When cooking, avoid boiling your vegetables because nutrients are lost in the water. The best way to preserve nutrients when you are cooking is to steam or bake.
6 Smart Swaps
Swapping one vegetable for a similar vegetable is another thing to do to make sure you are getting the healthiest veggies. You can switch shallots for onions when cooking. Shallots have 6 times more phytonutrients than onions! In addition to swapping shallots for onions, you can also swap sweet potatoes for potatoes, and you can replace shelled peas with snow peas or sugar snap peas.
7 Buy Local
When you purchase vegetables at the farmer’s market, you can be sure you are getting the freshest veggies. They are usually picked that day or the day before, which means they will have more vitamins and minerals. Also, there are usually more varieties of vegetables at the farmer’s market, many of which are healthier. Shopping at the farmer’s market is a great way to get healthier vegetables and to support local farmers.
Eating more vegetables is great for your health. Vegetables are always nutritious, but you can use tricks like these to make them even healthier. What are your tips for making vegetables healthier?
Robinson, Jo. Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. Print.
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