Green veggies are the perfect nutrient source, but it’s a matter of finding them.
As it stands, many Canadians do not know exactly how much vegetables are in their diets, according to a new study.
“Many people who have vegetables are not really aware of the number of vegetables they are consuming, and therefore don’t have a clear picture of their overall nutrient intake,” said co-author Dr. Julie DeBruyn, a nutrition researcher at Dalhousie University.
In the study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers compared the nutrient profiles of 13 different vegetables to a “normal” Western diet, including apples, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
They found that vegetables like green onions and carrots had higher levels of iron and potassium than white potatoes, and that their nutritional profile was comparable to those of white potatoes.
The study, which was conducted by DeBuyn and colleagues, involved about 1,000 Canadians aged 18 to 45 who were part of a large, federally funded nutrition survey.
It also included nearly 1,500 people who did not participate in the study.
The researchers then compared the nutrients of the 13 vegetables with the nutritional profiles of the rest of the Canadian population, which comprised roughly 40 per cent of the country.
Among the vegetables, the researchers found that green onions, broccoli and cauliflower had higher iron levels than other vegetables.
The same was true for spinach, which had higher potassium levels than tomatoes.
But the highest amounts of both calcium and phosphorus were found in the red-green lettuce, which has a high content of vitamin C, which is known to promote healthy skin.
For example, spinach has a median daily intake of 1,200 mg of calcium and 3,500 mg of phosphorus, and a daily intake for the red and green varieties of the lettuce of 5,200 and 1,800 mg, respectively.
The vitamin C in spinach, on the other hand, is a potent antioxidant that can prevent free radical damage in the body and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, said DeBüren.
“For example, in the vitamin C content of spinach, it protects the skin and prevents the formation of free radicals,” she said.
“We found that there are similar effects with broccoli and turnips.”
DeBussins research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.