Root vegetables are foods that grow beneath the ground. They form part of the root system of plants, expanding into either a bulb or a cylindrical root that can be consumed raw or cooked. By growing as part of the root and within the soil, root vegetables are able to absorb a large variety of nutrients in large quantities. They also function as storage organs of many plants.
For these reasons, root vegetables pack a lot of essential nutrients for human health. These vegetables have the added advantage of being available from autumn through to spring. They are easy to store for several months, ensuring they are available throughout the year unlike other plant foods.
Health Benefits of Root Vegetables
These healthy roots contain vital nutrients such as:
• Complex carbohydrates: These types of sugars are great for the body, providing lots of energy throughout the day, without spiking blood sugar. They are perfect for diabetics.
• Vitamins A, B, and C: These are essential vitamins that are necessary for better eyesight, strong immunity and cell function.
• Minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
• High fiber content, which is required for proper digestion and gut function.
• Antioxidants such as betalains, which remove free radicals that damage body cells and cause cell aging.
Types and uses of Root vegetables
These vegetables come in many varieties. They are also very versatile in their preparation, making them fit into almost every dish or accompany other foods. Here are the most common roots, their benefits and uses:
• Beets: These are either red or golden. They have a high quantity of complex carbohydrates, giving them a sweet and earthy flavour. Beets also contain large amounts of beta-carotene and antioxidants. They can be roasted, fried or shredded raw for salads.
• Carrots: These are very common in salads, and can be eaten raw. Crunchy and crispy, they are rich in beta-carotene and low in calories, which make them perfect for weight loss. They are used in vegetable broths, stews or in garnishes for roasts.
• Sweet potatoes: This is a sweet and very tasty root. It can be mashed, sliced and roasted or used in baking cookies or muffins. It can be cooked with nuts, honey and coconut milk, or pureed for soups.
• Parsnips: These look like white carrots and have a spicy and deep flavour. They are great with cream and spices, especially in soups or when mashed with herbs.
• Ginger: This is a vegetable root packed with many nutrients and a wonderful flavour. It is full of antioxidants and is a natural antiseptic with anti-inflammatory properties. It is popular in baking, drinks, and spicy sauces. A great addition to meat and chicken stews.
• Garlic and Onions: These two are well known for their flavour and health properties. Garlic is renowned for its use in preventing heart disease and inflammation. Onions are also good for proper circulation. These taste best when fried in oil then added to sauces with herbs and spices. Onions are also an essential ingredient in garnishes and salads.
Other root vegetables include Rutabagas, Turnips, yams, Kohlrabi and Yucca root. They can be sautéed, grilled, roasted, boiled or baked. For the best health benefits, they should be eaten raw, because cooking destroys nutrients. Make these roots as a part of your daily diet for good health.
Stacy Eva is a Health Advisor to many Communities and a Blogger as well. She is well known for her Health Articles on Web. As of now she is working as a content manager for Ehic Card.