All great chefs know that the eyes eat first. That is why they put so much effort into presentation, livening up the plate with vivid vegetables.
For a long time, in fact, nature's colorful bounty – an emerald bed of lettuce, shiny scarlet tomato wedges, or bright orange slivers of carrots – was used primarily as a bit of colorful warmth to fill the empty spaces between the meat and potatoes .
Now we know that there is a better reason to serve vegetables. The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their cheery hues, called carotenoids, are more than pretty colors. They could save your life.
• Our bodies are constantly under attack by free radical-oxygen molecules that have lost an electron and zip through the body trying to steal replacement electrons from healthy cells. In time, this process causes internal damage to tissues throughout the body, possibly causing heart disease, cancer, and many other serious conditions. The carotenoids in vegetables neutralize free radicals by offering up their own electrons. This effectively stops the destructive process, helping prevent your cells from being damaged.
• Carotenoids certainly seem to be important in disease prevention. The best way to get them is by eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That way you are sure to get a wide variety of these compounds in the amounts that nature intended.
• There are more than 500 carotenoids, although only 50 to 60 of them are found in common foods. The key carotenoids identified so far are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin, although scientists continue to investigate others.
• People have been fighting the cholesterol war since doctors first uttered the words "hardening of the arteries." Along with avoiding high fat foods, you can make progress in winning this war by eating carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables, like sweet potatoes spinach, and cantaloupe, every day.
• Carotenoids contribute to heart health by helping prevent the dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing-the process that causes it to stick to artery walls. Studies show that people with high levels of carotenoids have significantly lower risks for heart disease than those who do not.
• Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that smokers who already had one heart attack were less likely to have a second if they had high blood levels of four important carotenoids-beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin.
Source by Muhd Asif Raza