Freshly harvested and enjoyed at their peak quality, vegetables in season are nutritious, delicious, and typically cost less, too. “Just picked” veggies enhance all kinds of recipes: pasta salads and chilled soups, stir-fries and pasta dishes, pizza toppings and roasted veggie sandwiches.
What makes veggies so good for you? As part of an overall healthful diet, veggies in all forms – fresh, frozen, canned -- are loaded with health benefits. They are:
- Low in calories and fat … Vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat – and none have cholesterol -- so they may help lower calorie intake if eaten instead of higher-calorie foods. (Tip: Frying and some sauces may undo these benefits.)
- Good sources of fiber … Fiber-rich vegetables help your digestive system work normally, help you feel full with fewer calories, and, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes as part of an overall healthy eating plan.
- Packed with vitamins and minerals … Vegetables provide your body with many nutrients vital for health. For example:
- Potassium may help maintain a healthy blood pressure, may reduce the risk of kidney stones and may help decrease bone loss;
- Folate not only helps your body form red blood cells, but for women during pregnancy, protects against some birth defects;
- Vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin healthy and also helps protect you from infections; and
- Vitamin C not only helps to heal cuts and wounds and keep your teeth and gums healthy, but also helps your body absorb iron from grains and other plant-based foods.
- Rich in phytonutrients … The compounds in food that give vegetables their vibrant colors – red, orange, yellow, green, purple -- and unique flavors protect your health beyond nutrient basics. The more colors, the better for you!
- Reduced risk of some chronic diseases … Eating plenty of vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, and may protect against some cancers.
What makes veggies perfect for everyday meals and snacks? They’re simply good! Plus, they’re:
- versatile for all kinds of main dishes, side dishes, and more;
- colorful, making a meal more appealing and fun to eat;
- varied with many different (new and familiar) veggies to keep your meals and snacks interesting;
- convenient for a quick snack or meal; and
- economical, delivering plenty of flavor, nutrition and enjoyment for your food dollar.
In fact, a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest shows that the average cost per serving of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables cost less or about the same as less health options, making them a nutritional bargain!
And what makes fresh-picked veggies superstars on the plate? When picked at their peak and handled with care, a fast track -- from field to plate -- keeps fresh vegetables tastier, arguably with a slight nutritional edge. For example, vine-ripened tomatoes are known to deliver more flavor; bright red bell peppers or crisp green beans may contain a bit more vitamin C when the journey to the table is short and cool. (Both time and heat degrade vitamin C.) And in season, veggies typically cost less. Regardless, seasonal vegetables make any eating event more enticing. When it comes to veggies, more matters!
For ways to make seasonal vegetables part of your meals and snacks, check these websites: www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html and
For easy, delicious ways to incorporate veggies in your next pasta dish, visit the recipe section of our website, http://www.dreamfieldsfoods.com/healthy-pasta-recipes.