Are you familiar with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet? The DASH Diet is a very effective plan to lower blood pressure. However, it can be difficult to follow because it calls for four to five servings of vegetables each day. One vegetable serving equals one-half cup, or a one-cup serving of greens, such as spinach and lettuce.
Here are three easy-to-find aromatic vegetables you can incorporate into your daily diet for a variety of health benefits. Aromatic vegetables can add flavor to many dishes.
Onions: One of the most often-used aromatic vegetables, onions are high in allyl sulfides, which aid in the fight against heart disease and cancer. Onions provide inulin, vitamin C, fiber manganese and folate.
Celery: A great low-calorie addition to meals, celery promotes lower blood pressure. Celery contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium and quercetin, a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties to protect your heart health.
Garlic: It’s been found to reduce atherosclerosis, which is the thickening of your arterial walls, and may lower your cancer risk.
Other aromatic vegetables include shallots, parsnips, peppers, leeks, chili peppers, carrots and scallions.
Tips for using aromatic vegetables:
- Use fresh aromatics for best flavor and texture.
- Chop and store in advance to reduce prep time.
- For even cooking, chop vegetables.
- Oils from certain aromatics can cause eye and nose irritation. Handle carefully.
- Don’t go overboard using fats and oil. You can also use juice, broth or water.
If you cook vegetables, do you destroy nutrients?
This is a common question. Raw vegetables do tend to contain higher levels of antioxidants. Depending on the method you use, water-soluble vitamins can be lost in the cooking.
However, some vegetables with nutrient properties are enhanced by cooking, such as tomatoes. When tomatoes are cooked, nutrients such as **lycopene **become more readily accessible to the body.
But whether or not you eat vegetables cooked or raw isn’t nearly as important as making sure you try to eat a wide variety of vegetables every day.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.