Food mysteries – Part 3: Exploring vegetables

Let’s explore the mysteries of vegetables and why they are important to eat to stay healthy.

“Eat your vegetables!” is a phrase used a lot with kids and adults. Vegetables have a great taste, add color and variety to meals, and most are low in calories. Many vegetables are also a good source of vitamins A and C.

Vitamin A is needed for growth, healthy skin and vision at night. The main source of vitamin A is in foods that contain carotenoid color pigments. That pigment is changed to vitamin A in the body. You can find carotenoids in dark green, deep yellow and orange vegetables and fruits.

Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collards and potatoes all contain vitamin C. Vitamin C is important to our diet because it keeps our gums healthy and helps us fight off infectious diseases. It also helps heal any cuts or bruises we may get.

Canned vegetables are a great way to get your vitamins and minerals, but sometimes have added salt. Salt is made up of sodium and chlorine. Too much sodium from salt and other foods has been found to be a problem for people who have high blood pressure. When shopping for canned vegetables, avoid the added salt or sodium, and try to purchase more "low sodium" canned vegetables.

Michigan State University Extension offers these tips for getting the most out of your vegetables:

  • Don't overcook vegetables; nutrients and vitamins break down with over-cooking.
  • Raw vegetables should be ripe, but not over-mature.
  • Clean and leave the skin on. Many of the nutritious are found in the skin of vegetables.
  • Flavor vegetables with other seasonings or herbs like parsley, garlic and dill. Avoid seasonings with salt.

To learn more about eating healthy and staying active, visit your local MSU Extension office.

Other articles in this series:

Did you find this article useful?