Wellness (n.) : the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.
Everyone can hear its echo in their souls; the three booming words that shook all of us as children, never to be forgotten. “EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!” Most of us did what we were told (or at least made it look like we did.) We hid the salad under our rice, spit peas into napkins, dropped carrots under the table for the dog. We pinched our noses and gagged for dramatic effect. Words like “antioxidant” and “diuretic” meant nothing to us back then. If, however, you ever stopped to find out why vegetables are so important in the first place, you may have been pleasantly surprised. You see, your mother/father/grandmother/guardian was right. Vegetables contribute to your state of wellness in countless ways!
A New Look at Some Old “Favorites”
Carrots. Bugs Bunny has told us for decades that carrots are good for our eyesight. But that’s only a fraction of the story. Carrots are mostly known for their beta-carotene, a pre-cursor of vitamin A. And yes, these vitamins have been shown to help prevent blindness. Carrots cleanse the digestive tract, liver, and spleen. Beta-carotene is also an anti-inflammatory agent and can help soothe digestive disorders such as diarrhea. Carrots also contain silicon, which builds connective tissue and aids in the absorption of calcium. Crunching carrots is good for building up jaw strength in children. Carrot consumption has even been shown to increase milk production in breast-feeding mothers.
Cucumbers. There is a reason fashionistas put cucumber slices on their eyes! Cucumbers have long been hailed for their skin soothing properties. They also reduce inflammation of the stomach and throat. An enzyme in cucumber helps digest protein and cleanses the entire digestive tract.
Lettuce. Who says it has no nutritional value? Lettuce, even of the iceberg variety, is a mild diuretic and eases water retention and digestive fermentation. As with most vegetables however, the darker the better. Green leafy lettuce contains iron, vitamins A and C, manganese, and chlorophyll.
Tomatoes. Regardless of your pronunciation, tomatoes hydrate the body and have been shown to relieve constipation and reduce high blood pressure. Despite their acidic nature, tomatoes actually help neutralize the body. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, a vitamin that has shown positive effects toward the prevention of prostate cancer.
Onions. The onion family (red, yellow, and white onions, leeks, shallots, and chives) has quite possibly the most benefits of any vegetable group. These vegetables help to digest protein and cleanse and energize multiple body systems. Onions contain the chemical sulfur, which is a known immune booster. And onions have anti-inflammatory effects, which help everything from clearing the sinuses to reducing insect bite swelling.
Make your mother proud.
Now that you can see what she was squawking about all those years, make your mother proud. Challenge yourself to make vegetables a large part of your diet. If you must resort to the bribery and distraction methods used during your childhood to do so, do it! Make airplane noises if you must and have a sweet low-fat reward, like a popsicle on standby. Accumulate extra Brownie points by using these easy tips:
• Eat organic vegetables. You will not only get the full nutrients of the vegetables but you will avoid pesticides and chemicals – and support local farmers.
• Start your meals with a salad. Restaurants do it for a reason. Make it colorful by adding peppers, radishes, olives, and multiple kinds of greens. Different colors contain different phytochemicals which your body needs. Plus, it just looks prettier. A beautiful presentation will capture your attention and encourage you to slow down and eat more mindfully.
• A little garlic and a little onion can go a long way. Sneak them into soups or saute and pile them onto (preferably wheat) pasta. The health results are not reliant upon the quantity you consume. Add mint or parsley to your meals to counteract garlic/onion breath.
• Don’t overdo it. Ask your doctor what vegetables are right for you or if any vitamins or minerals may conflict with your medicines. And above all, make sure that your vegetables are part of a balanced diet. Without a little fat and adequate protein, your body will fail no matter how many turnips you eat.
© 2008 New Perspectives. Permission to copy this article is granted provided the authors are notified and the following bio information is included:
Kathleen Passanisi PT, CSP, CPAE is an internationally recognized transformational speaker, therapeutic humor expert, healthcare professional and author. She has spoken to bajillions of people about life balance, wellness, the power of perception, and the link that exists between humor and health. Kathleen is a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame and the funniest woman in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri (and, quite possibly, the Western Hemisphere.) For more information on Kathleen's presentations, books and products please visit the New Perspectives website at www.KathleenPassanisi.com
Annie Passanisi is the daughter of a motivational speaker (see above) who inherited her mother's passion for women's issues and the platform. If that does not tell you enough about her, she is also a Chicago-based actor, singer, freelance writer and editor, 1950s pop culture enthusiast, and swing set champion. For more information, please visit www.TheAnniePassanisi.com.