Now that the Fall Harvest is just about all gathered in and hitting your local markets, you may be surprised to know that there are some produce holdouts that are just being gathered now and will be for a few more weeks to come. Yep, even when after the frost makes it first appearance, these hidden gems are still waiting to be gathered up and sent to the local markets, or placed in storage in a root cellar. And the clue to what they are was just mentioned a sentence ago. These hidden gems that are packed full of vitamins and other body supplying nutrients are the root vegetables!
Grown beneath the earth, root vegetables seem to have seeped in all of Mother Nature’s natural healing and energy giving benefits. Whether you’re eating carrots in a salad, minced onion in a stir-fry, baked yam as a sweet side, or any of the other following vegetables, your body’s sure to thank you. Here’s a breakdown of some of the healthiest foods pulled from under the dirt, along with a few reasons why you should be eating them.
Ginger: This root vegetable is the underground stem of the plant Zingiber officinale and has been used as a digestive aid by the Chinese for more than 2,000 years. With such broad benefits such as helping treat arthritis, nausea, and heart conditions to relieving colds and headaches, ginger is nature’s practically perfect panacea.
Onions: Peel off as little of the outer layers as possible, because the onion’s flavonoids, which provide antibacterial benefits, are more concentrated in those areas. Onions have also been shown to increase bone density, especially for older women, have anti-inflammatory properties, and lower esophageal- and mouth-cancer risks.
Garlic: “The Stinking Rose” is known for its numerous health benefits; whole books are dedicated to its cardiovascular, antiviral, cancer-preventative, and metabolism-boosting qualities. Garlic specifically has a set of sulfur-containing compounds that help protect against oxidative stress, which often leads to less than pleasant inflammation.
Fennel: Widely used in mouth fresheners, toothpaste, and antacids, but also a lovely addition to salads, fennel’s essential oils offer huge nutritional benefits. If you’re low on red blood cells, fennel has been used as a natural treatment for anemia, especially because it is heavy in iron. Indigestion, constipation, and respiratory disorders are among other ailments fennel can help cure.
Yams: With more than 200 varieties, yams vary from yellow to purple. They are all, however, great sources of vitamin B6 and potassium. Many people tout that wild yam extract, which contains diosgenins (chemicals that act similar to progesterone), helps provide an alternative to hormone replacement for menopausal women. While studies have yet to confirm this, Chinese herbal medicine has been using yams to improve organ function for centuries.
Turnips: Increase Your Iron Intake: Toss a cup (250 mL) of diced white ‘turnip into the pot the next time you make a stew or curry. It has about one-third of your daily needs of vitamin C, ‘a powerful antioxidant that helps with the absorption of iron and also assists the body in making collagen for bones and cartilage. Which any athlete knows that the more collagen you have in your joints the more flexible you’re going to be in performing to your utmost potential in your chosen sport. And this additional collagen will help in the long term, as it helps you as you grow older in being able to move more freely with joints lubricated with healthy collagen.
Carrots: It’s common knowledge that carrots make your eyesight better. What makes the orange-colored root great for vision health is its beta-carotene content, which is converted to vitamin A, travels to the retina, and protects against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. Perfect for dipping in your favorite hummus or dressing, studies have also found that carrots promote lung health.
Possibly Reduces Your Risk of Cancer: And studies have shown that a compound found in raw carrots reduced the risk of cancer developing in rats, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Rats that ate carrots, or feed with added falcarinol (a substance in carrots that gives the vegetable protection against fungal diseases) were one third less likely to develop full-scale tumors than rats not fed carrots or feed with falcarinol.
Radish: The ancient Greeks held such high opinion of radishes in the medical field that Greek physician Androcydes used to instruct his patients to eat daily servings of radish to prevent intoxication. Radishes are high in vitamin C and have are helpful in lowering cholesterol, curing urinary tract disorders, and increasing the supply of fresh oxygen in the bloodstream.
Beets: These red and golden vegetables are packed with unique phytonutrients called betalains, which provide support for the body’s antioxidants and detoxification process. Make sure to add beets to your daily diet to help clean out your system. In addition, lab studies of human tumor cells show that beets’ betanin decreases the cells’ growth.
In addition, with consuming beets in both solid and liquid form you can possibly see an increase in your stamina and possibly help to keep your blood pressure in check: Drinking beet juice could help you exercise longer, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009. After drinking two cups (500 mL) of the juice daily for six days, eight male participants were able to cycle up to 16 percent longer than when they drank a placebo. The study shows how the nitrate contained in beet juice leads to an improved use of oxygen. In another study, drinking the same amount of beet juice daily was found to significantly reduce blood pressure.
So there you have it, the great end of the season harvest that can help you to be healthy in multiple ways. So what are you waiting for, get on down to your local farmers market, or food store, but make sure they have relationships with local growers, and be sure you ask about the growing habits the farmers use, so that you purchase only organic, or as pure a form of naturally grown produce as you possibly can.
Remember, natural is always better for you!