When we were kids, our parents always told us to eat our vegetables because they were good for us. When your parents start getting older, it’s time to give them the same advice. Adding a lot of vegetables to meals is a great idea because they are full of nutrients, low in calories and they add a lot of flavour and variety to a senior’s menu.
Vegetables can provide almost all of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Many of them, like potatoes and squash, contain complex carbohydrates, which supply us with energy. Most contain our necessary dietary fibre, and some (like beans) are also a good source of protein. All this while being low in fat, low in calories, and cholesterol free.
There are many myths and old wives’ tales about vegetables. Here are some of the most popular veggie myths.
Fresh vegetables are more nutritious than frozen
Studies have show that frozen vegetables are often more nutritious than fresh, depending on the variety and how fresh the produce is at your supermarket. Produce starts losing nutrient quality as soon as it is picked, so the “fresh” vegetables are sometimes not that fresh at all.
Frozen vegetables are flash frozen immediately after they are harvested, so they are preserved at their peak nutritional value. Frozen spinach, for example, can be a better choice than fresh spinach – which can take up to two weeks to reach the store after harvesting. Your best bet in terms of taste, texture and nutrition is fresh, in-season produce. But when that isn’t a viable option, frozen is still a great choice. What is true, however, is that fresh or frozen vegetables are preferable to canned vegetables.
Cooked vegetables are less nutritious than raw
It depends on the vegetable. Cooking can destroy some nutrients, but it can release others.
Tomatoes, for example, release vitamin A when cooked, and cooking makes them easier to digest. It also makes it easier for your body to absorb more lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in cooked tomato sauce rather than raw tomatoes.
It is preferable to steam or roast veggies rather than boiling them, which leeches vitamins into the cooking water. When buying canned cooked vegetables, pick no sugar added and low sodium options for a healthier choice.
Potatoes are fattening
Potatoes are low in calories and almost fat free. It’s not the potatoes themselves that can make you fat, it’s how we like to prepare them that can cause you to gain weight. If you deep fry them, or cover them in sour cream and butter, you can’t blame the potato!
Eating carrots will improve your eyesight
This theory grew out of the fact carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A (which contributes to healthy vision, bone growth and skin health). The main myth here is “improve.” Like all other vitamins, ingesting an abundance of vitamin A simply helps to maintain health (in this case the health of your retinas). A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to what is called night blindness (an inability to see effectively in low-light.)
The origin of this vision improvement myth is fairly recent. In World War 2, the Allied Air Force developed a radar system that pilots used to find and track enemy aircraft. In an effort to conceal this secret weapon, the Air Force made a point of serving carrots at every pilot’s meal and spread the word that eating a lot of carrots enabled the pilots to see at night. This charade effectively deceived the Nazis, but the rest of us believed it, too.