Simply adding more vegetables to your diet is a good way to improve your health, but how you eat them and what you eat them with can have an impact on their health benefits. How you prepare them and what you eat them makes a difference. Here are ways you can add even more health benefits to the vegetables you’re eating.
Eat Broccoli with Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on the table. A member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, broccoli is well-known for their anti-cancer benefits. Mature broccoli is a good source of anti-cancer chemicals called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are converted to cancer-fighting compounds called sulforaphanes, but to make this conversion, an enzyme called myrosinase is required. When you expose broccoli with heat, it destroys most of the myrosinase your body needs for this to happen. Fortunately, broccoli sprouts are a rich source of myrosinase. One study showed that eating broccoli with broccoli sprouts doubles its cancer-fighting powers. Sounds like a good reason to add some broccoli sprouts to your next bowl of broccoli, doesn’t it?
Cook Your Tomatoes
Tomatoes taste great fresh from the garden, but you’ll get more nutritional bang for your buck if you heat them first. Tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants called lycopenes that may lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer, but your body is able to use those lycopenes best when tomatoes are heated or processed. Tomato sauce is a better source of bioavailable lycopenes than raw tomatoes – and that means good things for you.
Add Lemon to a Bowl of Spinach
Spinach is a good source of iron, but iron is not absorbed as easily from plant-based sources like spinach. You can boost the amount of iron that makes it into your bloodstream by eating spinach and other iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C like lemon. Of course, not everyone needs more iron in their diet since too much iron can negatively impact health. But if you’re a pre-menopausal, physically active female, chances are you could use more iron in your diet.
Add Olive Oil Dressing to a Salad
A garden salad loaded with fresh vegetables is a good way to get a leg up on your vegetable quota for the day, and you certainly don’t want the vitamins and antioxidants in that salad to go to waste. To make sure you absorb all of the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in that salad, use an olive oil-based dressed. Fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids need a little fat too boost their absorption. Look for cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil for maximal health benefits.
Garnish a Bowl of Carrots with Avocado
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid that reduces inflammation and is important for healthy vision. The healthy, monounsaturated fats in avocados boost the absorption of the beta-carotene in the carrots, making it a combination deserving of a place on your dinner plate.
The Bottom Line?
Get your veggies one way or another, but for even more health benefits, try some of these vegetable combos. They were meant to be together.
Eurekalert. “Sprouts? Supplements? Team them up to boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power”
World’s Healthiest Foods website.
Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989;30:103-8.