Healthy root vegetables to add to your diet

Monday October 19 2020
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By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Root vegetables have been part of people’s diet for a long time. Incorporating them into your diet will help you get many health benefits.
Carrots
Carrots are said to benefit eye health due to their vitamin A content. They are a rich source of carotenoid from Vitamin A, carrots help keep the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy. They also prevent age-related macular degeneration, which, in extreme cases, can lead to blindness.

“When eaten raw, because they are crunchy, carrots also stimulate the gums to produce more saliva, which cleanses the teeth and kills bacteria and foreign bodies in the mouth, thereby reducing oral health problems. Carrots also fight gingivitis, a condition in which the gums become red and puffy and bleed easily when the person brushes their teeth,” says Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist.
Carrots also contain fibre, which is good for digestion. Other nutrients contained in carrots include vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc. 

Sweet potato
Like carrots,  sweet potatoes have beta-carotene nutrients. When taken into the body, the beta-carotene turns into vitamin A, which clears up damaging free radicals. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are better at this role to protect you from poor eyesight, bolster the immune system and may reduce the aging process. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes provide beta carotene, just like carrots and will help restore your sight.

Dr Vincent Bakyenga, a general practitioner, says: “Beta-carotene is also important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone. They contain mostly carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin A, C and potassium. In Uganda, where vitamin A deficiency among children and women is prevalent, consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potato is a good solution to drying of the eyes and poor eye sight from vitamin A deficiency.”

Sweet potatoes generally have a soothing effect on the stomach and the intestines. They contain vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and calcium which are good at treating stomach ulcers. They are very sweet and satisfying to help you satisfy your sugar craving and maintain good weight.
To expectant mothers, Dr Bakyenga says, sweet potatoes are a great source of folic acid, which is essential in foetal development and preventing neurological defects in unborn babies.

Beetroot
Beetroot can be blended or boiled into a smoothie or sliced as part of a vegetable salad. The vitamin A contained in beetroots promotes good sight, especially in low light. Beets are rich iron sources thereby increasing the amount of blood in the body. A daily intake of beet juice results in growth and multiplication of red blood cells in the body which treats anaemia. 

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Beets are high in nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps promote vasodilation (widening of arteries), to reduce blood pressure.
Twebaze remarks, “This root vegetable is rich in nitrates, which relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Drinking a glass of beet juice can yield a drop in blood pressure and greater results can be achieved through daily consumption.”

Yams
Yams are a low-glycemic carbohydrate that is ideal for people with diabetes according to Twebaze. This is because they are harder for the body to break down and, therefore, sugar and energy are released more slowly into the bloodstream, giving a balance in sugar levels. Yams are also good for the nervous system.
They are a good source of vitamin C, which is vital in the fighting of infections such as colds and flu and quick wound healing. It is also helpful in anti-aging, strengthening bones, and aiding healthy immune function. It also provides good amounts of fibre, potassium, manganese, and metabolic B vitamins.


Turmeric
This flavourful spice is considered a super food because it is rich in antioxidants and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities make turmeric a strong defense against colds, coughs, and congestion. Try it in a turmeric latte (golden milk), or use it to season lean meats, grains and other healthy foods.


 

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