Dietary experts recommend making vegetables a mainstay on our menus. Many people love root vegetables but are confused as to their impact on health. Due to their high nutritional content, Harvard Health Online points out that root vegetables play a major role in cuisine trends like the “vegetable forward” movement and root-to-stem cooking (which uses every part of a vegetable, including the tops, stems, and skins) and more. However, as they are also high in carbohydrates, bingeing on these vegetables is not recommended. Let’s take a the pros and cons of root vegetables.
Root vegetables grow underground and some are bulbous growths that absorb water and nutrients to nourish the plant. Beets, carrots, horseradish, parsnips, potatoes, radish, sweet Potatoes, turnips and rutabagas are common root vegetables. All of these are low in calories and loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamin C, and other essential vitamins and minerals, making them “dietary powerhouses”. The key health benefits of root vegetables are as follows:
- Reduce cancer risks: Studies have found that root vegetables can reduce your risk of cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a compound found in raw carrots reduced the risk of cancer developing in rats. Carrots also contain alpha-carotene and bioflavonoids, which have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, especially lung cancer, according to a Reader’s Digest article.
- Provide folate: Parsnips are rich in folate. Folate or B vitamin is necessary for women who are trying to conceive and for pregnant and breastfeeding ladies, as it helps prevent neutral tube defects.
- Prevent disease and help absorb more iron: Sweet potatoes, turnips, and carrots are loaded with beat-carotene and vitamin C, which can help prevent stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which is important for vision and bone growth. It also helps to regulate the body’s immune system. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron and also assists the body in making collagen for bones and cartilage.
- Increase stamina: According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009, drinking beet juice could help you exercise longer. Beets also help the body use oxygen better and can significantly reduce blood pressure.
- Loaded with fiber: Root veggies are packed with fiber and can keep you feeling full longer, thereby supporting your weight loss efforts.
- Easy to cook and a great option in winter: Root vegetables cook quickly and can be easily stored. This makes them a great option as the temperatures drop in fall and winter when the availability of fresh foods can become limited. As root vegetables have an extended storage life, you can stock up and use them throughout the season.
However, while root vegetables offer many benefits, it’s important to eat them in a balanced way as they also have some cons:
- As most root vegetables are also starches, they are high in carbohydrates. If you eat more carbs than your body needs, they will get stored as fat and lead to weight gain.
- Eating too many carbs at one go can spike your blood sugar levels and increase your risks of developing diabetes. Root vegetables can raise your sugar level quickly if you have diabetes.
- Adding butter and other unhealthy ingredients while preparing root vegetables like potatoes can make it easy to overeat, adding up a lot of calories.
Eating a variety of root vegetables is good for your health. The best way to avoid any negative impact that they can have is to include them in your diet in a balanced way.