Don’t get me wrong — vegetables are among the best foods for your body. Many are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, including fiber for good digestion. And if all veggies were grown and harvested as “naturally” as farmers want us to believe, they would be even healthier. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case.
4 Reasons Veggies Aren't Always Healthy
First, some vegetables simply don’t have a lot of nutrients to begin with. Others may trigger inflammation or digestive problems. Still others are normally healthy, but they lose their nutritional value because of the way people eat them. Last but not least, today’s genetic “advances” may not be that great.
Are Starchy Vegetables Bad for You?
Just because something is technically a vegetable, that doesn’t make it magically healthy. Starchy vegetables fall into this category, including potatoes, corn, peas, beans, lentils, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. In case you were wondering, starch = carbohydrates. Going overboard with carbs and calories from these veggies can make you gain weight.
Tips for Healthy Eating With Starchy Veggies
- Leave the skin on potatoes
- Mix starchy veggies with non-starchy options (carrots, bean sprouts, leafy greens, etc.)
- Eat high-carb vegetables for breakfast or lunch so you burn the calories
Are You Cooking Veggies Wrong?
Sometimes, the problem isn’t the veggie itself, but the way people prepare it. Obviously, frying potatoes or sautéing carrots in butter adds to the calorie count. Boiling eliminates nutrients. Salads can encourage your family to eat healthy — unless you add creamy, fat-laden dressing. And don't even get me started on the salt content of most canned vegetables.
Tips for Preparing Veggies the Healthy Way
- Steam vegetables instead of boiling
- If you do boil veggies, use the water as stock for soup
- Choose frozen vegetables instead of canned
- Use herbs and spices instead of butter and salt to add flavor to veggies
- Sauté veggies with canola oil or EVOO
Are You Sensitive or Allergic to Veggies?
Some vegetables trigger food sensitivities and allergies. Soy allergies are relatively common in the U.S. (in children more than adults). Corn sensitivity is a common trigger for IBS. Genetically modified veggies are everywhere these days, and so are pesticides. That’s why I usually shop organic if possible.
Are Vegetables Making Your Chronic Pain Worse?
Many vegetables have powerful plant compounds. Some of these nutrients can help protect your eyes, skin, heart and other organs. If you have a health problem, however, certain plant chemicals may irritate your body instead of helping:
Arthritis: Some people find that bell peppers, potatoes and eggplants make arthritis pain and inflammation worse.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Avoid brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichokes, lentils, beans and asparagus if you find they cause gas and bloating symptoms.
Heartburn: Garlic and onions can trigger heartburn, as can tomatoes.
Gout: Some veggies are high in purines, but research says that you're OK eating them.
Know your body. If you suspect a food is hurting you, test it by skipping it for a couple of weeks.
I’m not saying you should eliminate family-favorite veggies completely. Some potatoes have a fair amount of potassium and vitamin B6. Beans have a lot of protein and fiber, along with iron, folate and potassium. However, if your diet only revolves around these foods, you’re going to struggle to keep the weight off.