Key benefits of bean sprouts
Bean sprouts (also called mung bean sprouts) are a good source of vitamin C, B complex vitamins and protein.
Maximising the benefits of bean sprouts
Eaten fresh, a handful of freshly-sprouted beans can give an adult three-quarters of their daily vitamin C requirement
Key benefits of broccoli
Broccoli has many benefits as it both builds health and has the potential to prevent cancer. It also helps to lower the risk of stroke and heart diseases and may reduce the risk of cataracts as well. It is rich in nutrients, helps fight anaemia and also lessens the risk of spina bifida. Broccoli activates the body's own detoxifying enzyme systems.
Maximising the benefits of broccoli
Broccoli should only be boiled or steamed very briefly, otherwise it can lose a major portion of its beneficial components.
Key benefits of brussel sprouts
Brussels sprouts have many beneficial phytochemicals, have anti-cancer effects and are a good source of folate, vitamin C and iron.
Maximising the benefits of brussel sprouts
It is best to steam or briefly boil Brussels sprouts in order to preserve both the folate and the vitamin C.
Key benefits of cabbage
Cabbage may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as that of cancer, specifically colon cancer. It may also cut the risk of cataracts and spina bifida. It speeds ulcer healing and improves digestive health. Cabbage has a high folate, vitamin B and antioxidant content.
How much cabbage should you eat?
Two to three helpings a week of cabbage are recommended if it is to have a general protective effect. Eating too much cabbage, can, however, reduce iodine absorption in the body.
Maximising the benefits of cabbage
The outer leaves of cabbage should be washed properly to get rid of farm chemical residues. Cabbage can be eaten raw, cooked, baked, stuffed. To help reduce flatulence, cabbage can be eaten with caraway or fennel seeds.
Key benefits of carrots
Carrots have an extremely high beta-carotene content and have many health benefits, including giving protection against coronary heart disease and several cancers, notably lung cancer. Carrots can also lower blood cholesterol and help guard against food poisoning.
Beta-carotene has been associated with an increased risk for lung cancer in smokers. The three studies that indicated this association did, however, test the association with amounts of beta-carotene that dramatically exceeded the recommended doses.
Normal, dietary beta-carotene intake should be safe (and, in moderate amounts, may protect against cancer). Excessive beta-carotene supplementation could, however, create a problem.
A balanced diet, that includes one portion of carrots (1/2 a cup of grated carrots) per day, should be fine.
How much carrots should you eat?
Carrots are low in calories and can therefore be eaten freely. Even just one carrot a day will increase the beta-carotene levels in the body.
Maximising the benefits of carrots
Fresh carrots are healthier than carrot juice. Beta-carotene is also not destroyed by the cooking process.
Key benefits of cauliflower
Cauliflower is linked with lower rates of cancer. They can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, counter anaemia and help regulate blood pressure.
How much cauliflower should you eat?
Raw or lightly cooked cauliflower can be eaten three or more times per week. It is low in calories and can therefore be eaten fairly freely.
Maximising the benefits of cauliflower
Cauliflower should be wrapped and stored in the fridge, and eaten as soon as possible. Dill and fennel can be taken to reduce flatulence.
Key benefits od celery
Celery is a good source of potassium. It has a diuretic effect, can help control blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory effects.
How much celery should you eat?
Celery is extremely low in calories and can be eaten freely. About four stalks a day, raw, or cooked will lower high blood pressure. The greener the celery, the higher the levels of vitamin C, folate and carotenes.
Maximising the benefits of celery
Celery is most nutritious eaten raw, but is still beneficial when cooked.
Key benefits of chillies
Chillies help fight pain, temporarily increases the metabolism and eases nasal congestion. It can also discourage blood clots and stimulate the circulation. It can be a digestive aid and have anti-inflammatory effects.
How much chillies should you eat?
Chillies contain capsaicin, which is the source of the chilli's heat. They are mostly concentrated in the seeds and ribs. Chillies can burn your mouth and stomach, so it is not wise to eat too much of them, as constant irritation of the stomach may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer.
Maximising the benefits of chillies
The hotter the chilli, the higher the capsaicin content. Chillies can be eaten raw or cooked or in chilli sauce. Be careful not to eat very hot chillies inadvertently, as you will definitely regret it.
Maximising the benefits of Cucumber
Cucumber is a fruit that came from the same family as pumpkin, zucchini and other squashes. It has a dark green rind and white succulent flesh. There are 2 types of cucumbers the pickling varieties and the slicing varieties. The pickling variety is relatively small (2 - 4 inches long)
Reported Health Benefits :
- Cucumber is best natural diuretic known, secreting and promoting the flow of urine.
- Helps in kidney and urinary bladder disease.
- Liver disease
- Pancreatic disease
- The potassium content of cucumber makes it highly useful for conditions of high and low blood pressure.
- Cucumber contains erepsin, the enzyme that helps to digest protein.
- The high silicon and sulphur content of the cucumber is said to promote the growth of hair, especially when the juice of the cucumber is added to the juice of carrot, lettuce and spinach.
- A mixture of cucumber juice with carrot juice is said to be beneficial for rheumatic conditions resulting from excessive uric acid in the body.
- Cucumber juice is also valuable for helping diseases of the teeth, gums, especially in cases of pyorrhea.
- The high mineral content of this vegetable also helps to prevent splitting of nails of the fingers and toes.
- Cucumber, radish and bitter gourd are beneficial in diabetes.
Key benefits of garlic
Garlic has many health benefits – it reduces blood pressure and also reduces the risk of infection and illness. It may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. It may also reduce the risk of cancer.
How much garlic should you eat?
Two to three cooked cloves of garlic are recommended. If taken in tablet form two to three 300mg tablets are recommended. People on anti-coagulant drugs should only take garlic under medical supervision
Maximising the benefits of garlic
Garlic is most beneficial if eaten raw. Fierce cooking that disperses the garlic oil will reduce the benefits.
Key benefits of leeks
Leeks are a useful source of folate and fibre. They have anti-cancer effects and are also linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
How much leek should you eat?
Leeks are low in calories and can be eaten freely. An average serving of cooked leeks weighs about 75g.
Maximising the benefits of leeks
Leeks contain fewer allylic sulphides (sulphur-containing phytochemicals) than onions or garlic, but are still beneficial. Leeks also contain beneficial fructo-oligosaccharides.
Key benefits of lettuce
Lettuce aids digestion and promotes liver health. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cataracts. It helps to reduce the risk of cancer, helps prevent spina bifida and anaemia and may ease nervous insomnia.
How much lettuce should you eat?
Lettuce and other leafy green salads are all very low in calories and can be eaten freely.
Maximising the benefits of lettuce
The fresher the salad, the better. When the cut surfaces are exposed to air, it diminishes the crispness as well as the nutritional quality of the lettuce.
Key benefits of onions
Onions help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. They relieve congestion in the airways.
How much onion should you eat?
Onions have health benefits and they are not high in calories, so can be eaten freely.
Maximising the benefits of onions
Raw onions have the most health benefits, but cooked onions are also beneficial. Onion powder or other dried onion products are not as beneficial as raw or cooked onion.
Key benefits of parsley
Parsley has many health benefits. It provides antioxidant protection, it counters anaemia, is a traditional diuretic and may help kidney function and gout. It is also a good source of folate and Vitamin C.
How much parsley should you eat?
Parsley is very low in calories and can be eaten freely. It is most often used as a garnish or a flavourant in other foods.
Maximising the benefits of parsley
Parsley is best used fresh to maximise its folate and vitamin C content.
Key benefits of red pepper CAPSICUM
Red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, contain high antioxidant levels and are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
How much red pepper should you eat?
Red peppers are the sweeter and riper versions of green peppers. They can be eaten in many different ways and because they are low in calories, can be eaten freely.
Key benefits of spinach
Spinach contains high levels of potassium and folate. Spinach may reduce the risk of cancer, helps to avoid and relieve anaemia and may protect against eye degeneration and heart disease. It is not as rich in iron as was previously thought – the result of a printing error.
How much spinach should you eat?
Spinach is low in calories, but is high in oxalates. Therefore it shouldn't be eaten more than twice a week. It is a good idea for pregnant women to eat spinach in the first three months of pregnancy for its folic acid content.
Maximising the benefits of spinach
Spinach retains much of its minerals and vitamins when it is steamed rather than boiled
Key benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes contain a high level of antioxidants. They are also linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and they are a good source of vitamin C and E. The main phytochemical found in tomatoes is lycopene.
How much tomatoes should you eat?
Tomatoes are low in calories and can be eaten freely. They can be eaten baked, raw, grilled or as juice or pureé.
Maximising the benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes that have been heated in some way are most beneficial, as the lycopene has been released from the tomato cells. A little salad oil also aids absorption by the body.
White button mushrooms
Key benefits of white button mushrooms
White button mushrooms contain virtually no fat, few kilojoules, are cholesterol-free and packed with a range of health-boosting vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants. What's more, research shows that mushroom eaters have greater intake levels of most vitamins and minerals than non-mushroom eaters. Mushrooms are a prime natural source of the antioxidant ergothioneine. In fact, researchers have found that white button mushrooms have about 12 times more of the antioxidant than wheat germ and four times more than chicken liver. These foods were previously considered to be the primary source of the antioxidant.
Results of a study by researchers at Tufts University in the States also suggest that white button mushrooms may promote innate immunity against tumours and viruses by enhancing natural killer cell activity.
How much button mushrooms should you eat?
White button mushrooms add a rich flavour to many different types of dishes, but are low in calories. Therefore, they can be eaten freely.
Maximising the benefits of button mushrooms
Make the most of button mushrooms with these tips from the 5-a-Day for Better Health Trust:
- always choose mushrooms that are smooth and firm to the touch;
- keep mushrooms refrigerated and never wash them before storing (unwashed mushrooms last longer); don't store them in airtight containers – this speeds up condensation and causes spoilage;
- mushrooms don't need much cleaning – a gentle wipe with a damp cloth is more than enough;
- never peel mushrooms or remove their stalks – the whole mushroom is edible and the skin contains important nutrients.