Love radishes? Turns out you’re not alone. In fact, radishes were once so prized in Greece that they were immortalized in gold!
Although we certainly appreciate the radish’s beauty – often attacking them with a few skillfully placed knife slices to create a beautiful rose garnish for dress-to-impress dishes – this cruciferous vegetable is held in higher esteem today for its health benefits.
Specifically, radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, packing about 30% of the recommended daily allowance per one cup serving. In addition to shoring up the immune system, vitamin C has been found to reduce asthma symptoms among pediatric patients as well as a decrease susceptibility to bruising and other forms of inflammation. Other beneficial nutrients found in radishes include potassium, which can reduce the risk of kidney stones, folate and magnesium. Finally, radishes contain a number of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile, helping to improve digestion and maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver.
Haven’t been eating your beets? Don’t beat yourself up (see what we did there), because technically they’re out of season right now. But with spring fast approaching, perhaps it’s time to dig deeper and examine what these little purple monsters have to offer!
Hailing from South Africa, the beet – which is a relative of Swiss chard and a member of the Chenopodiaceae family – was initially cast off in Northern Europe as nothing more than animal chow. However, in the 16th century, Romans began eating the green leaves of the root vegetables and by the 19th century, they had become less picky and began eating the whole darn thing! In doing so, it was discovered that beets were an excellent source of natural sugar – so much so that Napoleon declared them Poland’s primary source of sugar after the British put the squeeze on other sugar sources during the war!
Meet Kale, yet another member of the brassica family, a clan of vegetables that includes cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts.
Although believed to have been brought over to Europe around 600 BC by groups of Celtic wanderers (and over to the U.S. in the 17th Century), Kale has only recently stepped into the spotlight for its organosulfur-containing phytonutrients. Specifically, kale offers a hefty dose of the phytonutrients glucosinolate and cysteine sulfoxide, which are thought to activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver and neutralize potentially carcinogenic substances, free radicals and other harmful compounds.
Used for cooking and medicinal purposes for over 2,000 years, asparagus is one nutritious perennial garden plant! See, and you thought all it was good for was turning your pee green!
Among its many health benefits, asparagus logs off-the-charts levels of Vitamin K (more than 115% recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving!), which is important for heart health and calcium regulation. In addition, asparagus also boasts high levels of folate that, when combined with Vitamins B6 and B12 (as is the case in asparagus), can protect against heart disease and other cardiac ailments. Asparagus also contains a hefty dose of potassium, which combines with an amino acid called asparagines to cause a diuretic effect as well as a healthy type of carbohydrate called inulin that clears the intestinal tract of unhealthy bacteria and promotes good digestive health.
Is it a plant? Is it an animal? Who cares when it tastes this delicious!
Classified as an algae (so neither plant nor animal!), the sea vegetable family counts ultra-healthy seaweed, sea lettuce, nori and kelp among its many relatives. Mimicking the mineral content of the ocean – which incidentally mimics the mineral content of human blood – sea vegetables are, pound for pound, the most nutrient dense food in existence.
On the minerals side, sea vegetables provide each of the 56 minerals required by the body for optimum physiological function. In addition, these minerals are made available in colloidal form, meaning that they are small enough to be easily absorbed by the body.
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