The Top Ten Reasons to eat more vegetables…
#10 Vegetables are a great partner with fats.
When topped with brown butter, roasted with high-end olive oil, fried in tempura batter, braised with bacon, or dipped in a tangy fondue, vegetables can be decadent, rich, and very delicious. The sad thing is that boiled or steamed is how most people eat their vegetables and this is a huge fucking mistake both from a taste perspective and nutritionally. Many vegetables have fat soluble vitamins that require pairing with fats in order to unlock their potential. This pairing also makes veggies more filling. Back to my original point, vegetables can be transformed and their flavors accentuated with the use of these fats. Most Americans don’t like vegetables because they have been eating them incorrectly. When I make vegetables with delicious fats for my non-veggie eating friends they go nuts for them. So set forth and boldly try some different recipes. Here’s a place to start…Roasted Vegetables.
#9 Vegetables probably cure or at least prevent cancer.
No one is sure which vegetable cures or prevents cancer but based on the results of the China study*, findings from a number of Mediterranean diet studies, and countless others, the rates of cancer for avid vegetable connoisseurs are much lower than those who abstain. We aren’t sure if there is a magical vegetable (my guess is it’s broccoli) or if it’s the result of the overall percentage of vegetables in your diet, but either way, you should cast a wide net and get some recipes for all of them just in case it’s Swiss Chard that cures cancer and not broccoli. Those of you who only want to eat veggies in the form of cream cheese stuffed jalapeno poppers washed down with a 24 ounce Miller Lite during happy hour at Chili’s, you have a special place in my heart, but you need to get your ass to the salad bar pronto, and don’t be skimpy with the spinach. Ruby Tuesday has a better salad bar by the way, and it’s only a dollar when combined with an entrée. What a deal.
#8 Vegetables lengthen your telomeres.
Chromosomes (on the left) are the part of your cells that contain your DNA and the telomeres are located at the end of the chromosomes (the red part). Telomeres don’t contain DNA but act as a sort of expiration date for the cell. As people age, telomeres get shorter and when they get too short, they signal the cell to stop reproducing(senescence). When enough cells go into senescence (permanent hibernation) that part of the body stops functioning optimally. This is what happens as we grow older. In one way, this is part of the natural aging process, so that’s a bummer. But wait, scientists have found that people of the same age can have very different length telomeres, and furthermore, lifestyle plays a huge role in your telomere length.
Lab rats that have their telomeres shortened artificially age at an extremely rapid rate, succumb to untimely deaths, and look like shit compared to their normal telomere length rat brothers and sisters. What’s even more amazing is that when scientists lengthen the telomeres of old mice, using an enzyme called telomerase, the old mice become young again. Here is a picture. The mouse on the left is sexy as hell and over 36 months old. Apparently, that’s like being older than Larry King’s mother in mice years. Everyone in the cage was saying how he had work done or that he was dying his fur, but it’s only from the telomeres, we promise. Mice can be so catty by the way.
With the discovery of telomere length, we are finding that the number of candles on the birthday cake is not as important as the length of the telomeres. So how do we lengthen our telomeres? There are entire books on the subject and my favorite is “The Telomere Effect” by Drs. Blackburn and Essel. Research shows that vegetable consumers have longer telomeres than non-vegetable consumers and that vegetable consumption seems to be a very important contributor to longer telomeres. So, with more consumption of veggies, we can not only slow, but also reverse the aging process through the science of telomeres. If you have the extra money, you can get your telomeres measured through an online lab service. I would recommend having them measured before starting this diet and then again in 12-18 months after implementing, along with your cholesterol, testosterone (for men only), and hemoglobin A1c (a measure of your average blood sugar levels) and then post your amazing results to our webpage and/or Amazon review. Other things that have been shown to lengthen telomeres are proper rest, decreased stress, increased physical activity, keeping insulin levels low, social interaction, first-person-shooter-video-games, and scotch.
Author’s note: I may have made up those last two. Also, I forgot to mention positive thinking, mindfulness, avoiding harmful chemicals like cleaning products and pesticides, and eating more omega 3 fats.
#7 Vegetables are generally low in carbs, calories, and glycemic load.
I am not in the “calories in calories out” camp of weight management. Many of you are, even many nutritionists, scientists, and doctors whose opinions I respect, believe that our weight essentially comes down to an energy balance equation. If you are of this (incorrect) mindset, then this is yet another reason to chomp down into some cauliflower and hummus, because vegetables are exceptionally low in calories and apparently most are zero points on Weight Watchers. I’ve heard some of my more research prone patients who are on super low carb diets declare that eating “higher sugar vegetables” like beets, red peppers, and garden peas will wreck your diet and cause weight gain because they have a relatively high glycemic index. They usually say this after espousing the virtue of chicken breast or other factory farmed meat. To be clear, these vegetables are light years more healthy than pork rinds and the bit of sugar they contain is no big deal. Seriously, in the history of the world has anyone ever become obese because they ate too many red peppers and carrots? This is a rhetorical question, obviously no one has become obese eating these foods, but I’ve heard this myth more than once. Check out this link for an explanation of the glycemic index and glycemic load which explains you can eat all the veggies you want, but trust me, you’re fine. Glycemic index and Glycemic load
#6 Vegetables are cheap.
While their prices relative to other foods have increased in the past decades, they are still generally a lot less expensive than most baked goods, meats, cheeses, and Faberge eggs (which are a great source of jeweled protein by the way). For most Americans, especially readers of this blog, vegetables are generally affordable. Organic vegetables cost more and can be harder to find but we recommend organic over traditional vegetables. If the cost of organic food is problematic for your budget, then skip the organic and get more of the non-organic vegetables and scrub the shit out of them and off of them, literally. I recommend organic vegetables for two reasons. First, they are better for the earth, as toxic chemical pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers are not used when growing organically. Second, it is probably way better for humans to consume organic produce because there’s no way those pesticides and manmade fertilizers are good for you. Unfortunately, there has not been any really good scientific studies showing a true benefit with the consumption of organic produce when compared to conventional produce. This is probably because the right study has yet to be done and there is lots of money in keeping Americans buying conventionally grown produce. To that point, there haven’t been a lot of high quality scientific double blinded randomized controlled studies comparing the use of parachutes to placebo and yet we continue to prescribe them for anyone who could benefit from a more controlled falling situation from great heights. Many times in science, we have to go with common sense until more data is available and I think this is one of those times, both in terms of organic produce and parachutes.
Shopping at local farmer’s markets can also be cost effective and these vendors tend to use less chemicals, petroleum based fertilizers, and their proximity to you usually means a fresher product and less of a carbon footprint because of reduced transportation costs. Furthermore, these vendors are often helpful in recommending good hiking locations, local concerts, and finding a bong that fits in perfectly with your living room décor. These vegetables whether purchased at a farmers market, from the organic produce section, or from Walmart will pay dividends in terms of your long-term health. They will likely save you money on medicines, doctor visits, and larger pant sizes. Eating vegetables may cost you in other ways, however. As a vegetable consumer, you are at a higher risk for living a much longer life, and thus requiring more money to sustain your retirement. If you have only financially planned for two or three years of retirement, you may consider decreasing your vegetable consumption, adjusting your financial planning, or learning to play Russian roulette for fun and profit.
#5 Vegetables are high in fiber.
Many people experience some constipation when starting a low carb diet because when you cut out sugar, starches, and lots of grains, your GI track tends to slow down a bit. Veggies are high in fiber and along with plenty of water and perhaps a magnesium supplement, your bowels can stay active and healthy. While all vegetables contain carbs, but you can subtract the fiber grams from the carb count to get the net carbs, which is generally quite low. Also, don’t worry about it, veggies are super healthy regardless of carb count.
#4 Vegetables are good for the earth.
When farmed responsibly (usually this means organic, or at least using traditional farming practices) vegetables are great for the environment. If organic/local veggies are unavailable or unaffordable then buy some fucking conventional vegetables and find a way to deal with the shame of knowing you contributed to the destruction of our earth for generations to come (alcohol works for me). I may have gone too far there, because even conventionally grown vegetables are better for the environment than almost any processed food, grain, or factory meat product on the market. Vegetables can be rotated with other vegetables to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients and are truly a miracle of nature, as they convert sunlight into delicious sustenance for our bodies. They release oxygen and take in CO2, thus reducing the carbon footprint for all of us who grow vegetables in our home or community gardens. Besides, serving as a conversation starter for both your hippie neighbor on one side and the little old lady next door on the other, your own vegetable garden can be a source of pride, accomplishment, exercise, and also vegetables.
#3 Vegetables can be substituted for less healthy meats, processed foods, and carbohydrates. You should check out our recipe section for examples of this and/or follow my recipe pages on Pinterest. Buffalo cauliflower wings, cauliflower fried rice, cauliflower pizza, and cauliflower mac and cheese can all be found on my Pinterest page. I may need to branch out from cauliflower, a bit. Mushrooms are also great as a meat substitute as they contain a lot of meaty flavor, especially when they are poured over a steak. The comedian Ali Wong said that if a man has a Pinterest page, he’s probably Pinterested in men. I respectfully disagree, I’m Pinterested in vegetables and the oodles of handsome men on my Pinterest wall are for fashion and workout ideas.
Additionally, the act of eating more vegetables displaces processed foods from your diet, because when you eat more of one thing, we naturally eat less of another thing. Your diet is a zero sum game this way. In the 80’s, Americans were told to eat less fat, so to comply, we logically had to eat more of something else, and that something else was processed carbohydrates, and with that the type two diabetes epidemic and the Walmart Mumu was born. I’m not making fun of obese people here. If you are obese, you should feel betrayed by the government, doctors, and nutritionists telling you to stop eating delicious fats and start eating fat-free, sugary cardboard junk which will causes obesity and diabetes.
Substituting vegetables for processed foods is an example of a win/win nutritionally. As we have learned in previous sections, processed foods may be the ultimate evil culprit in our nutritional crime drama. Picture an 1800’s villain with a monocle, laughing maniacally and stroking his moustache as he ties some poor girl to the railroad tracks. That evil guy is processed foods. The train is diabetes and your first heart attack, and the hero on the horse coming to save the girl in the nick of time, that’s vegetables, and the girl, that’s you. You’re the girl. I think I pretty much nailed that analogy. If I were on stage, I’d drop the mic right about now.
#2 Vegetables are high in nutrients.
Some experts believe that the reason Americans consume far more calories today than they ever have before, is because the foods we are consuming are processed. Processed foods have carbs, fat, and protein but are micro-nutrient deficient. We keep eating long after having received a life sustaining volume of food and calories because these foods lack the nutrients the body craves. We have to keep eating larger amounts of processed food to get the micro-nutrients we require, as the amount of micro-nutrients in our food continues to decrease. The modern diet starves its consumers of micro-nutrients, but gorges them in cheap calories, carbohydrates, and shelf-stable unhealthy fats. Vegetables essentially do the opposite, as they provide highly nutrient dense but calorically low source of deliciousness. If we eat meals high in nutrients, we will start feeling more satisfied with less volumes of food and thus consume less and feel and look better, which is what business folks call a win-win.
#1 Vegetables are versatile.
From raw, to roasted, fried, sautéed, braised, grilled, fermented, and tossed, veggies can serve as your culinary paintbrush with your family’s faces as the canvas. People actually survive entirely on vegetables and live quite healthy and fulfilling lives, so transitioning to a diet that is at least 50% vegetables will be very doable, provided you continue to experiment and keep an open mind to different styles of cooking and eating. If you don’t like your cauliflower boiled, don’t give up on cauliflower, and if eventually you give up on cauliflower (this is a huge mistake, don’t do it…you must try cauliflower pizza), don’t give up on the rest of them. So get out there and start experimenting, with veggies, as food, not anything weird. This just got awkward. Let’s talk about something else