The idea that vegetables are good for you is nothing new. Chances are this was the reason your mother or grandmother always insisted you eat them.
The trouble here, though, is that “good for you” is a non-specific and fairly meaningless term without some sort of “why” attached to it. You only need to cast your eyes over common health practices throughout history (from colonic irrigation through to practices like draining with leeches and burning with red-hot embers to cast out evil spirits) to see that without the support of a scientifically-upheld “why,” simply labelling something “good for you” is of no value whatsoever.
Vegetables, however, are good for you, and there is plenty of evidence to support this statement and provide us with ample reason why it’s the truth. In your fight against excess body fat, if you’re not eating vegetables, you’re basically going to war armed with nothing but the smile on your face.
Here’s the why:
Low Kilojoule, High Nutritional Content – The reason we eat food is to nourish our body. Vegetables, particularly green vegetables, are dense with a range of micronutrients and at a low kilojoule cost. This means that we can eat them in large quantities, not find ourselves at risk of weight gain, and only nourish our bodies more with further helpings. They’re the ultimate free food.
High Energy Levels – Sure, your body benefits from carbohydrates to burn for energy, but if you want to optimise the use of the carbohydrates you eat, you want to be eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables along with your allowance of sweet potato. Why? Because cruciferous vegetables support mitochondrial health, which means more efficient energy production using those carbs. They also help to eliminate free-radicals, a by-product of energy production that kicks around your body causing damage to whatever it comes into contact with, like the drunk, angry guy you find at every house party. So if you want to train harder, optimise your energy levels with plenty of vegetables. They kick out angry drunks.
Gut Health – Long before there were yoghurt drinks to imbibe in the name of gut health, there were people with vegetable rich diets who didn’t need them anyway. Eat a vegetable rich diet and you don’t have to waste your money on heavily processed products you take in an attempt to eliminate the impact of not eating properly. Good gut health means maximal uptake of nutrition from your food. This means you get the most from your diet and aren’t forced to take on more kilojoules just because your body didn’t extract the nutrients it needed from your last meal.
Stronger Bones – Common wisdom is that, when it comes to bone health the big boy on the block is milk. Sure, milk has calcium, but it also has vitamin a, which can restrict calcium absorption. This means that no matter how high in calcium milk is, you’re never going to get the benefit of all of it. Leafy greens and colourful vegetables, meanwhile, are also calcium rich, and have vitamin K, potassium or magnesium in them. These things are also important for bone health, and they’re not wrapped up in a high-fat package like milk, consumption of which isn’t always supportive of your fat-loss goals. Strong bones mean better performance with resistance exercise. This means a faster metabolism. This means more body fat burned at rest. Excellent.
A Real Detox – The word “detox” has shifted in recent years away from its true meaning (the removal of toxins) and become a word people use to sell you overpriced teas. “Going on a detox” is like “going on a diet.” It’s something that you do in an attempt to justify eating badly ninety percent of the time. Eat a diet rich in vegetables all the time, your body is naturally lower in toxins, your physical performance is optimised, you train and process food better, you lose body fat. QED.
The take away message here? Your grandmother was right. Eat your vegetables.
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