October is Vegetarian Awareness Month

Numerous studies over the years have shown that there are many significant health benefits to a plant based diet. All plants contain various phytonutrients, or plant based chemicals, which convey many protective health benefits to those consuming them.

There are more than 25,000 phytonutrients found in plant foods… and counting! Naturally in plants, these chemicals provide protection from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. When we consume these foods, these protective nutrients work to protect our cells too! Fruits and vegetables typically contain high levels of phytonutrients. Other plant-based foods that also contain phytonutrients are: whole grains, nuts, beans, and tea.

While not essential to any one body function, phytonutrients are very beneficial for optimal immune function, cancer prevention, and many more worthwhile benefits.

The following chart shows various phytonutrients, their proposed health promotion properties and the plant sources where they can be found. Even if not solely choosing a plant-based vegetarian lifestyle, it is always a wise choice to include more plants in your daily intake.

Active Food Component: Possible Disease-Fighting Properties: Found in the Following Foods:
Allylic Sulfides Inhibits cholesterol synthesis and protects against carcinogens Aged garlic extract
Alpha-linolenic Acid Reduces inflammation and stimulates the immune system Flax seeds, soy products, purslane and walnuts
Carotenoids Antioxidants which protect against cancer and may help reduce accumulation of arterial plaque Parsley, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, kale, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash and citrus fruits
Catechins Studies have linked catechins to low rates of gastrointestinal cancer; May aid immune system and lower cholesterol Green tea and berries
Coumarins Prevents blood clotting and may have anti-cancer activity Parsely, carrots and citrus fruits
Flavonoids Block receptor sites for certain hormones involved in cancer promotion Parsely, carrots, citrus fruits, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, squash, yams, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, soy products and berries
Gamma-glutamyl Allylic cysteines May have role in lowering blood pressure and increasing immune system activity Aged garlic extract
Indoles Induce protective enzymes that deactivates estrogen Cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale
Isothiniocyanates powerful inducers of protective enzymes Mustard, horseradish and radishes
Limonoids Powerful inducers of protective enzymes Citrus fruits
Lycopene Powerful antioxidant that helps the body resist cancer and its progression Tomatoes and red grapefruit
Monoterpenes Cancer fighting antioxidants that inhibit cholesterol production and aid protective enzyme activity Parsley, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, squash, yams, mint, basil and citrus fruits
Phenolic Acids May help the body resist cancer by inhibiting nitrosamine formation and affecting enzyme activity Parsley, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, citrus fruits, whole grains and berries
Phthalides Stimulates the production of beneficial enzymes that detoxify carcinogens Parsley, carrots and celery
Plant Sterols Block estrogen promotion of breast cancer activity; Help block the absorption of cholesterol Broccoli, cabbage, yams, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, soy products, cucumbers and whole grains
Triterpenoids Prevents dental decay and acts as an anti-ulcer agent; Binds estrogen and inhibits cancer by suppressing unwanted enzyme activity Citrus fruits, soy products and licorice-root extract

When it comes to working more veggies into your diet, what’s easier than making a dinner bowl! All veggies work in this recipe so feel free to replace those suggested for others you have on hand or enjoy more!

Mideast Chickpea bowl

From Nutrition Action’s From the Heart Cookbook

Time 25 minutes

 1c grated cucumber

1/2c 2% Greek yogurt

1/4c mint and/or cilantro, minced

1/4c flat-leaf parsley and/or dill, minced

1/4t + 1/4t kosher salt *

1 large onion, diced

2T extra-virgin olive oil

1/4t ground cumin

1/4t ground coriander

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2c chopped fresh of (1) 15oz can no salt-added diced tomatoes

cloves garlic, minced4oz baby spinach

(1) 15oz can no salt-added chickpeas

  1. Make the cucumber-yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, and herbs. Season with ¼ tsp. of the salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, sauté the onion in the oil until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, remaining ¼ tsp. of salt, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chickpeas with their liquid, stir in the spinach, and heat through.
  5. Divide into 4 bowls and top evenly with the cucumber-yogurt sauce.

Serves 4 (Serving Size 1.5 cups)

Calories: 230

Fiber: 7 g

Sodium: 305 mg  *Salt substitute can replace the salt to reduce the sodium content further and boost the heart health value of the recipe!!

Protein: 10.5 g

Carbs: 30 g

Total fat:   8.5g

Sat fat: 1.5 g 

Any questions on choosing a vegetarian life-style and/or questions on including more health-boosting plants in your overall diet, contact us today. ANW’s registered dietitians can help you navigate through all of your plant-based options for optimal health!

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2017-10-16T10:49:44+00:00 Individual Nutrition|