Health Benefits - Vegetables

Chilli Peppers
 

For thousands of years, humans have taken a masochistic pleasure from adding chilli to their food. Now research indicates that the spice that has undoubtedly made our lives more interesting may also make them longer.

 

A huge study, published this summer in the British Medical Journal, seemed to indicate that a diet with herbs and spices - including chillies - was beneficial for health.

 

Chilli peppers were the most commonly used spice among the sample, and those who ate fresh chilli had a lower risk of death from cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

 

It is capsaicin that makes chillies hot. This substance, when consumed in the balance provided by a diet that uses chillies (such as a Mediterranean diet) also provides a wide range of health benefits. 

 

Its principal use seems to be linked to their anti-microbial function. By studying recipe books from all over the world, the researchers found that spices including chilli were more likely to be used close to the equator, and were also used more in humid valleys than on high plateaux. They have become a natural way to protect food from bacterial contamination. 

 

We now know that chillies are also a good source of antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamin A, as well as minerals such as iron and potassium.

 

Capsaicin has even been touted as a potential weight-loss tool. Scientists have found that the molecule increased metabolic activity in animals, causing them to burn more energy and preventing weight gain. In another study found that the receptors in the stomach that interact with capsaicin play a role in sensing when we are full. 

 

But what about heart disease and cancer: The recent study in China found a correlation between the consumption of chillies and lower rates of death from those diseases. Capsaicin has been found to help break down so-called "bad" cholesterol which might have clogged up arteries, but it left alone the "good" cholesterol which helps remove it. There was a second benefit for cardiac health too - the capsaicin appeared to block the action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting blood flow.

 

Several studies have also indicated that capsaicin has powerful anti-cancer properties. It has been found to be helpful in fighting human prostate and lung cancer.

 

Too much Capsaicin is "Probably it is harmful in the stomach or oesophagus because capsaicin itself can cause inflammation, and if anything can cause inflammation or so-called burning effect, it must cause some cell deaths and therefore the long-term chronic inflammation is may be harmful.” Therefore diets where hot spices are used (such as a Mediterranean diet), has a greater benefit than those with excess hot spices. 

 

Capsaicin - a natural painkiller: Capsaicin creams and patches are available in chemists to ease pain. But it's only in the past 20 years that we have come to understand the contradiction of how something that causes pain can ease it too. Capsaicin binds to the pain receptor TRPV1, which our brains also use to detect changes in temperature - that's why we think chillies are hot. But after being over-stimulated the neurons stop responding, killing the pain. This process involves the release of endorphins, which can give us a "rush" not dissimilar from the feeling of having exercised well. 

 

Garlic
 

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavouring in cooking, but it has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history.

 

That the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as "the father of Western medicine," prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion, and fatigue.

 

Lung cancer risk: According to some studies, regular consumption of garlic may lower the risk of Lung Cancer by up to 44%. 

 

Brain cancer: Organo-sulphur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective in destroying the cells in glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumour.

 

Hip osteoarthritis:  Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King's College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, onions, and rakkyo.

 

Garlic is potentially a powerful antibiotic: Diallyl sulphide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.  Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections and food poisoning.

 

Heart protection: Garlic contains several heart-protective chemicals.

 

Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.  In another study, scientists found that garlic oil helps protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy.

 

High cholesterol and high blood pressure:  garlic improves blood lipid profile, strengthens blood antioxidant potential, and causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It also leads to a decrease in the level of oxidation product (MDA) in the blood samples, which demonstrates reduced oxidation reactions in the body.

 

Prostate cancer: regular consumption of garlic is related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.

 

Preterm (premature) delivery: Microbial infections during pregnancy raise a woman's risk of preterm delivery. Scientists in Norway studied what impact foods might have on antimicrobial infections and preterm delivery risk. They concentrated on the effects of Alliums and dried fruits because a literature search had identified these two foods as showing the greatest promise for reducing preterm delivery risk. The study authors concluded, "Intake of food with antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds may be of importance to reduce the risk of spontaneous PTD. In particular, garlic was associated with overall lower risk of spontaneous PTD."

 

Garlic and the common cold: According to a team of researchers in the US, garlic may decrease the frequency of colds in adults, but has no effect on the duration of symptoms. 

 

Onions
 

There are three types of onions: yellow, red and white. All are excellent sources of vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids and phytochemicals.

 

Phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, are naturally occurring compounds in fruits and vegetables that are able to react with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. Flavonoids are responsible for pigments in many fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that they may help reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

 

A particularly valuable flavonoid in onions is quercetin, which acts as an antioxidant that may be linked to preventing cancer. It has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of bladder infections, promote prostate health and lower blood pressure.

 

Partly because of their use in cooking around the world, onions are among the most significant sources of antioxidants in the human diet. Antioxidants help prevent damage and cancer

 

Sulphides in onions contain necessary amino acids. Sulphur is one of the most common minerals in our body that assists with protein synthesis and building of cell structures.

 

Furthermore, onions contain fibre and folic acid, a B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells. 

 

Heart health:  According to Scientists, onions encourage a healthy heart in many ways, including lowering blood pressure and lowering heart attack risk. A 2002 study in the journal Thrombosis Research suggested that sulphur acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents blood platelets from aggregating. When platelets cluster, the risk for heart attack or stroke increases. This research further supports a similar 1992 study in Thrombosis Research that focused on sulphurs in garlic. 

 

Recently, health researchers have noticed a relationship between molecules called oxylipins and high cholesterol management. A study found that consuming onions increases oxylipins that help regulate blood fat levels and levels of cholesterol. The quercetin in onions helps prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

 

Anti-inflammatory properties: Onions’ sulphurs are anti-inflammatory agents, 

Immune system:  The polyphenols in onions act as antioxidants, protecting the body against free radicals. Eliminating free radicals can help encourage a strong immune system.

 

Cancer: A 2015 meta-analysis found that intake of allium vegetables, including onions, were associated with reduced gastric cancer risk. Eating between one and seven servings of onions per week may help reduce the risk of colorectal, laryngeal and ovarian cancer, oral and oesophageal cancer.

 

Quercetin may be a powerful anti-cancer agent, and inhibit cancer cells in breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and lung tumours. A recent study showed that people who ate onions absorbed twice as much quercetin as those who drank tea, and more than three times as much quercetin as those who ate apples, which are other high-quercetin sources. Red onions are especially high in quercetin. Shallots and yellow onions are also good options.

 

Digestion: The fibre in onions promotes good digestion and helps keep you regular. Additionally, onions contain a special type of soluble fibre called oligofructose, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines. 

 

Regulating blood sugar: The chromium in onions assists in regulating blood sugar. The sulphur in onions helps lower blood sugar by triggering increased insulin production. Onions are thought to be especially helpful to people with people with diabetes. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who ate red onions showed lower glucose levels for up to four hours.  

 

Bone density in older women: The daily consumption of onions improves bone density in women who are going through or have finished menopause. Women who ate onions frequently had a 20 per cent lower risk of hip fracture than those who never ate onions.

 

Onion management

 

Slicing onions makes you cry because when you cut into it, the onion produces a sulphur-based gas. The gas reacts with the water in your eyes and forms sulfuric acid. To rid your eyes of this fiery irritant, your tear ducts work overtime. For no more (or fewer) tears, try moving your face farther away from the onion so the gas disperses before reaching your eyes.

 

To avoid "onion breath," eat a sprig of parsley, or rinse your mouth with equal parts lemon juice and water, or chew a citrus peel.

 

Tomatoes
 

The health benefits of tomatoes include eye care, good stomach health, and reduced blood pressure. They provide relief from diabetes, skin problems, and urinary tract infections too. Furthermore, they improve digestion, stimulate blood circulation, reduce cholesterol levels, improve fluid balance, protect the kidneys, detoxify the body, prevent premature ageing, and reduce inflammation. Tomatoes consist of a large number of antioxidants may help fight different types of cancer. They are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals and exert a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.

 

The health benefits of tomatoes can be attributed to their wealth of nutrients and vitamins. Tomatoes contain an impressive amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as significant amounts of vitamin B6, folate, and thiamine. They are also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. They have dietary fibre and protein, as well as a number of organic compounds like lycopene that contribute to their health benefits.

 

Antioxidant Agent: Tomato contains a large amount of lycopene which is a carotenoid and an antioxidant that is highly effective in scavenging cancer-causing free radicals. In particular, they prevent the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells. 

 

Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals: A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant which prevents free radicals from damaging the body’s systems. It also contains abundant vitamin A and potassium, as well as iron. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining nerve health and iron is essential for maintaining normal blood circulation. Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and controlling bleeding, is also abundant in tomatoes.

 

Protect the Heart: The lycopene in tomatoes prevents serum lipid oxidation, thus exerting a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. Regular consumption of tomatoes or tomato juice decreases the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. 

 

Counter the Effect of Smoking Cigarette: The coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, in tomatoes, fight against nitrosamines, which are the main carcinogens found in cigarettes

 

Improve Vision: Vitamin A, present in tomatoes, aids in improving vision and preventing night-blindness and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can be formed from an excess of beta-carotene in the body. 

 

Aid in Digestion: Tomatoes keep the digestive system healthy by preventing both constipation and diarrhoea. They also prevent jaundice and effectively remove toxins from the body. Furthermore, they have a large amount of fibre, which can bulk the bowels and reduce symptoms of constipation. 

 

Lower Hypertension: Consuming tomato daily reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure. This is partially due to the impressive levels of potassium found in tomatoes. 

 

Manage Diabetes:  Daily consumption of tomatoes reduces the oxidative stress of type 2 diabetes. 

 

Skin Care: Tomatoes aid in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, hair, and skin. Daily consumption protects the skin against UV-induced erythema.  

 

Prevent Gallstones: Tomato is a good source of vitamin C and may also help in providing relief from gallstones. There have been various studies to prove their efficacy against many chronic diseases and varieties of cancer. 

 

Why are ChefMéd Tomatoes Better?

 

We source our tomatoes from Organic tomato farms in the Mediterranean. The methods offer a lower nutrient supply, since nitrogen-rich chemical fertilizers are not added. This leads to excessive formation of antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol in organic tomatoes. As we all know, antioxidants are good for health and help in reducing heart diseases. Moreover, chemical-based tomato farming involves spraying tomatoes with large quantities of pesticides and insecticides. Tomatoes are a highly sprayed crop throughout the world. We avoid these.

 

 
Sweet Peppers

Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) are fruits that belong to the nightshade family. They are related to chili peppers, tomatoes, and breadfruit, all of which are native to Central and South America. Also called sweet peppers or capsicums, bell peppers can be eaten either raw or cooked. Like their close relatives, chilli peppers, bell peppers are sometimes dried and powdered. In that case, they are referred to as paprika.

 

They are low in calories and exceptionally rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet.

 

Bell peppers come in various colours, such as red, yellow, orange, and green — which are unripe.

Bell peppers are mainly made up of water and carbs. Most of the carbs are sugars, such as glucose and fructose. Bell peppers are also a decent source of fibre.

 

Vitamins and minerals: 

Vitamin C. One medium-sized red bell pepper provides 169% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, making it one of the richest dietary sources of this essential nutrient. 

Vitamin B6. Pyridoxine is the most common type of vitamin B6, which is a family of nutrients important for the formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin K1. A form of vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone, K1 is important for blood clotting and bone health.

Potassium. This essential mineral may improve heart health.

Folate. Also known as vitamin B9, folate has a variety of functions in your body. Adequate folate intake is very important during pregnancy (3Trusted Source).

Vitamin E. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is essential for healthy nerves and muscles. The best dietary sources of this fat-soluble vitamin are oils, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

Vitamin A. Red bell peppers are high in pro-vitamin A (beta carotene), which your body converts into vitamin A (4Trusted Source).

 

Bell peppers are very high in vitamin C, with a single one providing up to 169% of the RDI. Other vitamins and minerals in bell peppers include vitamin K1, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate, and potassium.

 

Bell peppers are rich in various antioxidants — especially carotenoids, which are much more abundant in ripe specimens.

Capsanthin. Especially high in red bell peppers, capsanthin is a powerful antioxidant responsible for their brilliant red colour.

Violaxanthin. This compound is the most common carotenoid antioxidant in yellow bell peppers.

Lutein. While abundant in green (unripe) bell peppers and black paprika, lutein is absent from ripe bell peppers. Adequate intake of lutein may improve eye health.

Quercetin. Studies indicate that this polyphenol antioxidant may be beneficial for preventing certain chronic conditions, such as heart disease and cancer.

Luteolin. Similarly to quercetin, luteolin is a polyphenol antioxidant that may have a variety of beneficial health effects.

 

Bell peppers contain many healthy antioxidants, including capsanthin, violaxanthin, lutein, quercetin, and luteolin. These plant compounds are associated with many health benefits.

 

Eye health: The most common types of visual impairments include macular degeneration and cataracts, the main causes of which are ageing and infections. However, nutrition may also play a significant role in developing these diseases. Lutein and zeaxanthin — carotenoids found in relatively high amounts in bell peppers — are thought to improve eye health when consumed in adequate amounts. They protect your retina — the light-sensitive inner wall of your eye — from oxidative damage. 

 

Anaemia prevention: One of the most common causes of anaemia is iron deficiency, the main symptoms of which are weakness and tiredness. Not only are red bell peppers a decent source of iron, they are also exceptionally rich in vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron from your gut.

 

 
Courgettes

Zucchini, also known as courgette, is a summer squash in the Cucurbitaceae plant family, alongside melons, spaghetti squash, and cucumbers. Although zucchini is often considered a vegetable, it is botanically classified as a fruit. It occurs in several varieties, which range in colour from deep yellow to dark green. While squashes originated in the Americas, this particular variety was first developed in the early 1800s in Italy. 

 

Rich in Many Nutrients: Zucchini is rich in several vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds - Vitamin A, Manganese, Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Folate, Copper, Phosphorus, Vitamin B6, Thiamine in particular. It also contains small amounts of iron, calcium, zinc, and several other B vitamins.

 

High in Antioxidants: Antioxidants are beneficial plant compounds that help protect your body from damage by free radicals. Carotenoids — such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene — are particularly plentiful in zucchini These  benefit your eyes, skin, and heart, as well as offer some protection against certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer 

 

Contributes to Healthy Digestion: Zucchini also contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools and helps food move through your gut more easily, further reducing constipation risk. This benefit is compounded if you have enough fluids in your diet. Meanwhile, soluble fibre feeds the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. In turn, these friendly bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that nourish your gut cells. SCFAs may help reduce inflammation and symptoms of certain gut disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.  Zucchini’s fibre may increase insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels, potentially reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

Zucchini may also contribute to heart health. Pectin, one type of soluble fibre found in zucchini, appears particularly effective at reducing total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

 

Zucchini is also rich in potassium, which may help reduce high blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels. Healthier blood pressure is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke Moreover, diets rich in carotenoids — likewise found in zucchini — appear particularly protective against heart disease 

 

zucchini to your diet may aid your vision. That’s partly because zucchini is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene — two nutrients important for eye health. Zucchini also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Research shows that these antioxidants can accumulate in your retina, improving your vision and reducing your risk of age-related eye diseases. In addition, diets high in lutein and zeaxanthin may also lower your likelihood of developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens which can lead to poor eyesight. 

 

Bone health: Zucchini is rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin K and magnesium, all of which can help strengthen bones.

 

Anticancer effects: Test-tube and animal studies indicate that zucchini extracts may help kill or limit the growth of certain cancer cells. 

 

A healthy prostate: Animal research shows that zucchini seed extracts may help limit prostatic hyperplasia, an enlargement of the prostate that commonly causes urinary and sexual difficulties in older men.

 

 
Aubergines
Carrots
 

Along with tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, the aubergine (solanum melongena) belongs to the nightshade plant family (Solanaceae). In fact, aubergines grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. They have a deep purple, glossy skin encasing cream coloured, sponge-like flesh dotted with small, edible seeds. In addition to the classic purple variety, aubergines are available in other colours including lavender, jade green, orange and yellow and in a range of shapes and sizes. The most popular variety of aubergine looks like a large, pear-shaped egg, hence the American name ‘eggplant.’

 

The modern aubergine owes its origin to the wild version that is native to South East Asia. Prior to the middle ages, it was introduced in Africa before spreading throughout Europe and the Middle East. For centuries aubergines were enjoyed more as a decorative garden plant than as a food due to its bitter taste.

 

Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre. They are also a good source of vitamins B1 and B6 and potassium. In addition, it is high in the minerals copper, magnesium and manganese.

 

Aubergines are rich in antioxidants, specifically nasunin found in aubergine skin - which gives it its purple colour. A potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell and helping it to function. The lipid layer is crucial for letting nutrients in, wastes out and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell what to do.

 

Blood pressure: Nasunin is not only a potent antioxidant, protecting the fatty acids essential for healthy brain function, but it also helps move excess iron out of the body. 

 

Aubergines are high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for those managing type 2 diabetes or managing weight concerns. Initial studies indicate that phenolic-enriched extracts of eggplant may help in controlling glucose absorption, beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes and reducing associated high blood pressure (hypertension). Aubergines may also help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These positive effects are likely to be down to nasunin and other phytochemicals in aubergines.

 

Carrots are often thought of as the ultimate health food. Generations of parents have told their children: "Eat your carrots, they are good for you," or "Carrots will help you see in the dark."

 

People probably first cultivated the carrot thousands of years ago, in the area now known as Afghanistan. It was a small, forked purple or yellow root with a bitter, woody flavour, quite different from the carrot we know today.

 

Purple, red, yellow, and white carrots were grown long before the appearance of the sweet, crunchy, and aromatic orange carrot that is now popular. This type was developed and stabilized by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. One cup (64g) of chopped carrots provides more than 100 per cent of an average adult male or female's recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A.

 

While they may not help you see in the dark, the vitamin A in carrots helps prevent vision loss. Carrots also contain antioxidants and other nutrients. Evidence suggests that eating more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, can help reduce the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

 

Cancer: A variety of dietary carotenoids have been shown to have anti-cancer effects, due to their antioxidant power in reducing free radicals in the body. Studies have found a possible link between diets rich in carotenoids and a lower risk of prostate cancer. Carrots contain beta-carotene. Past studies have concluded that beta-carotene supplementation may reduce the risk of lung cancer. A meta-analysis published in 2008 found that people with a high intake of a variety of carotenoids had a 21 per cent lower risk of lung cancer, after adjusting for smoking, compared with those who did not. Consuming more beta-carotene may reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to researchers in Japan. Leukaemia - A 2011 study found that carrot juice extract could kill leukaemia cells and inhibit their progression.

 

Vision: Carrots contain vitamin A. A vitamin A deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia, a progressive eye disease that can damage normal vision and result in night blindness, or the inability to see in low light or darkness.

 

Diabetes control: The antioxidants and phytochemicals in carrots may help regulate blood sugar. Around a quarter of the carbohydrate in carrots is sugar, but the amount of carbohydrate in carrots is relatively small. According to Harvard Health, the glycaemic index of carrots is 39, meaning the impact on blood sugar is fairly low.

 

Blood pressure: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend consuming a fibre-rich diet and increasing potassium while reducing sodium intake to protect against high blood pressure and heart disease. Carrots offer a good balance of these nutrients.

 

Immune function: Carrots contain vitamin C, an antioxidant. This helps boost the immune system and prevent disease. Vitamin C can help reduce the severity of a cold, and the length of time it lasts.

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