A Healthy Diet Includes Lots of Veggies
There may be some debate over how much of your plate should be allocated to vegetables, but there is plenty of research that shows the value and necessity of vegetables in our daily diets.
The Harvard School of Public Health says that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can promote weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and even prevent some types of cancer (1).
And, since no single vegetable can provide all of the nutrients our bodies require, consuming a variety of vegetables each day can be just as important as how much vegetables we eat each day.
This simple side dish is quick, easy, and can be the perfect accompaniment to your meal.
Health Benefits of this Dish
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is a nutrient-dense food loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant compounds that act as antioxidants protecting our cells from damage. Broccoli is a rich source of fiber and amino acids like tryptophan, valine, and isoleucine (2). The dietary fiber of broccoli can help to lower the risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and it has been found to improve insulin sensitivity and improve weight loss efforts (3). In addition to fiber and protein, broccoli provides vitamins like vitamins C, K, A, and folate, and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and selenium (2). Broccoli is also a dietary source for carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the macula of the eye and improve visual acuity while they reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts (4).
Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is a low-calorie food packed with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, and it comes in various colors like green, white, and purple, each with its own nutrient profile. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K which is necessary for bone health and blood clotting, as well as vitamins A, C, and B9 (folate) (5). This veggie is one of the world’s top ten dishes, attributed to its high nutritional value, and is rich in amino acids, dietary fiber, flavonoids, and anthocyanins (6). Flavonoids and phenols like quercetin, rutin, and gallic acid are particularly high in asparagus, offering antioxidant properties that protect our cells and DNA from damage due to oxidative stress and free radicals that when left unchecked can contribute to premature aging, chronic inflammation, and chronic conditions like cancer (7).
Mushrooms come in thousands of varieties, and various colors, shapes, and sizes, and are not a plant or animal food but a type of fungus that contains beneficial properties when we consume them. Nutrient-wise, mushrooms are a source of B vitamins like B2, B3, B5, and B9, and also provide phosphorus, selenium, potassium, and copper, and some can provide vitamin D as well (8). Mushrooms contain polysaccharides like beta-glucans that have anti-cancer properties, promote the reduction of blood cholesterol levels, and protect nerve cells (9). Flavonoids, like myricetin and catechin, found in mushrooms can inhibit cancer, protect cells from injury, and increase inflammatory mediators that benefit the heart and help to reduce inflammation (9) (10).
Roasted Broccoli & Asparagus with Mushrooms and Leeks Recipe
½ lb. broccoli florets
½ lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch sections
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. (each) garlic and onion flakes
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine all of the ingredients, toss together, and spread them out on a large baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!
Here’s another take on a roasted broccoli side.