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Posted on April 13, 2018
Dark leafy green and orange veggies offer some key nutrients the human body requires to keep working properly. To understand why, start with the fact there are two types of vitamins, water-soluble and fat-soluble. Both are important, but this blog post will focus on fat-soluble vitamins.
As the name suggests, fat-soluble vitamins are a type of vitamin that’s absorbed into the body through fatty tissue. Plant-based foods can and do provide enough of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E, and one way to fully unlock the nutritional value of dark leafy green and orange veggies is to eat them with fats such as olive oil, other vegetable oils or nut oils.
Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting, and if you’re considering a vegan or plant-based diet, you might wonder if you’ll get enough of this nutrient. The good news is a study comparing clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference.
Food sources of vitamin K1 are leafy green veggies such as kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley and romaine lettuce. Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli are also excellent sources. Some fruits such as blueberries, prunes, grapes and raspberries are also a very good source of vitamin K1. Talk about a delicious way to get your vitamins!
Vitamin A is critical for vision, and it also supports cell growth, playing a critical role in the normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs. Food sources include sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots. Just a half-cup of cooked spinach provides 229 percent of the recommended daily value (DV), and a half-cup of raw carrots provides 184 percent. One sweet potatoes provides 561 percent DV of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
A previous blog post, Calcium Without Dairy, focuses on this nutrient, so we won’t get into too much detail here. Just know that the average adult should be getting 600 IU per day. Your doctor can help you assess your current vitamin D levels and make recommendations based on your current health, and it’s important to note that vitamin D deficiencies are not a vegan or plant-based diet issue. As of 2006, 41.6 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency.
When it comes to health benefits, vitamin E is probably best known for its antioxidant properties. Adults need 15 milligrams (mg) per day, which is very easy to achieve on a plant-based diet. This vitamin is densely found in foods that contain their own fats such as almonds (9-10 mg per ¼ cup) and sunflower seeds (8-13 mg per ¼ cup). If you’re allergic to nuts and seeds, don’t fret because leafy greens and vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens and red peppers all contain 2 mg per ½ cup cooked. Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower and safflower are among the best sources of vitamin E.
What’s for dinner tonight? How about some dark leafy green or orange veggies! Check our recipe library for new ideas, and enjoy all the health benefits of plant-based eating.
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