Foods from the Earth: Root Vegetables

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Daikon Radish

In celebration of Earth Day, some of our blog entries this month have focused on foods from the earth. So far, we have examined nuts & seeds as well as grains.  Today’s entry looks at powerful vegetables that develop their nutrients quite literally from the earth—root vegetables.

Root vegetables are exactly as the name implies…the root of plants.  Each root veggies has its own unique set of health benefits; all are rich in fiber and nutrients.  Let’s look at two common root veggies (carrots and beets) and two less common root veggies (burdock and daikon radish).

Carrots are well known for their eye-protection qualities. Studies have shown that they can help prevent glaucoma and cataracts. Newer studies have shown promising possibilities to protect against colon cancer and heart disease. They are an excellent source of vitamin A; just one cup supplies more than your daily requirement. Carrots are also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, and more

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains; these phytonutrients are responsible for the vibrant red color of beets and are known to have phenomenal anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Beets are immune-boosting with a high concentration of vitamin C. Also high in potassium and other essential minerals, beets are excellent for nervous system and muscle health.

Burdock has been used for centuries in Asian cultures. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and now recent research, it has more medicinal properties than almost any other vegetable. It is known to balance hormones, aid in digestion, improve skin health, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. It has even been reported as useful in the treatment of AIDS, diabetes, and cancer. Researchers are not sure which active ingredients in burdock root are responsible for its healing properties. But, they believe that its phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin, which are all powerful antioxidants, may be in part, responsible.

All radishes are root vegetables and are extremely beneficial to your health. The Daikon Radish, used frequently in Asian cooking is especially beneficial to your health. With natural expectorant properties, daikon radish is great for respiratory health. A powerful diuretic, it is known to be beneficial to kidney health. Rich in vitamin C, daikon is helpful for boosting your immune system. And perhaps the most amazing characteristic of daikon radish is its concentration of nitrosamine, a phenolic compound found in daikon that prevents the development of many cancer-causing substances.

When considering vegetables to add to your diet, definitely consider these root veggies; they are each delicious raw and cooked!

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