Vegtable Virtues: Freshness is All!

Dr.JaccarinoDr. Frederick Jaccarino, M.D.

Purple eggplant, red tomatoes, vernally green cucumbers and squash are in abundance now in local gardens, in office pantries, and anywhere healthy food is bartered, donated, or sold.
Most gardeners overproduce, and proudly share the harvest with family and friends who are less inclined to dig in the dirt.  So even if you don’t know a plum from a grape you really should embrace the opportunity represented by truly fresh vegetables.
Not everyone looks at fresh vegetables as welcome menu items.  Joining these groups of dextromaltocarnivores are a large number of adults who consume vegetables begrudgingly, not for taste or satiety or comfort, but merely because they know they should eat them.  Mom always says, “Eat your vegetables!”  If that is the only reason one eats vegetables, then taste is nothing more than an obstacle to overcome. Creative recipes can alter most flavors that vegetables present to the palate, which makes taste not excuse for not eating vegetables.
Perhaps those who are reluctant to embrace the greens, yellows, and reds of nature’s bounty will be swayed by a better argument than  “They’re good for you.”  We have all heard about the nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need and can get by eating fresh produce; but a daily vitamin satisfies our daily need for vitamins (RDA) as recommended by our federal government guidelines. Hard to  use the taste argument when justifying an aversion or disinterest in veggies! Would you rather chew on lettuce leaves or a Centrum Silver?
The other vegetable virtue which is less often discussed, but for me the most important (to improve one’s quality of life), is natural fiber content.  Though certain grains and fruits are fiber sources, vegetable fiber is unsurpassed as a steward of a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Constipation is rampant in the U.S.; it is virtually unheard of in third world countries where diets are dominated by local edibles. Perhaps not coincidentally, there is a very low incidence of colon cancer and heart disease there too. The great British M.D. and researcher Thomas Burkett believed that slow bowel transit times (which lead to constipation) allow absorption of carcinogens and atherosclerosis promoting substances.
So now, eat your veggies to live longer and better.
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