Root Vegetables are the roots of the plants as the name suggests. As these vegetables are the nearest to the soil, they have a very high capacity to absorb nutrients and happen to be an excellent source of fibre. Many of the root vegetables have high healing properties as well and are used in ayurvedic medicines.
Nowadays many people have understood the benefits of these vegetables and are replacing food grains to root vegetables. Few of the most common root vegetables that can easily be found in a home kitchen are potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, radish, onions, beet, garlic and many more.
The most prominent health benefits of root vegetables are:
1) High in Fibre:
As they are rich in fibre they are considered as low glycaemic index foods which are absorbed relatively slower. These fibre rich vegetables stay in our digestive tract for longer and thus keep us full. A high fibre diet helps prevent inflammation and disease formation. Additionally, they are also known for helping in digestion and preventing constipation. They are also known for being slower burning carbs compared to other food grains.
2) Reduces the risk of Cancer:
Many root vegetables such as carrots have a substance called falcarinol which prevents fungal formation and thus reduces the risk of cancer. Vitamin A found in root vegetables are often associated with higher brain functions and cancer protection. Two main causes of cancer are oxidative stress and inflammation but root vegetables contain Vitamin A and other antioxidants which lowers body’s inflammatory responses.
3) Good sources of Vitamin A and C:
Best sources of carotenoid antioxidants and Vitamin A and C are root vegetables. Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Beets and other root vegetables have Beta-carotene which is a precursor to active Vitamin A which is known for lowering inflammation, protecting skin and eye and helps in fighting free radical damage. Both Vitamin A and C strengthens the immune system by lowering inflammation which generally is the chronic reason for heart diseases and cancer.
4) Reduces cholesterol and improves Heart activity:
For a healthy heart and balanced cholesterol level a high fibre diet filled with whole foods containing insoluble and soluble fibres should be consumed. Fibre binds to cholesterol particles and help it get out of the body. It also maintains the triglyceride levels. Many root vegetables are rich in potassium which maintains blood pressure, nerve signalling and fluid balance.
5) Aids in Weight Loss:
We might avoid root vegetables to lose weight because of its starch and carbs content when compared to leafy vegetables, but they can actually help reduce weight as they keep you full. Most root vegetables contain lower calories and are lower in glycaemic index when compared to food grains, thus prevents abnormal increase in blood sugar levels. The fibre present too reduces release of glucose in the blood thus maintain energy and insulin balance.
6) Stronger bones and cartilage:
Root vegetables such as beets, carrots, radish contains high level of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that helps with the absorption of iron and helps in production of collagen for cartilage and bones. Reduction in inflammation and high iron and fibre content leads to a very suitable environment for stronger bones.
7) Higher Exercise Stamina:
Root Vegetables are high in nitrate which helps in use of oxygen in the body. It also reduces blood pressure and maintains energy and sugar levels which increases the stamina. As blood sugar and insulin levels are maintained higher energy ratios are seen in individuals who eat root vegetables.
8) Protects Eyes:
The beta-carotene present in the root vegetables converts into Vitamin A which is most important for eyes to adjust from bright light to dimmer light and vice versa. Additionally, it helps prevent cataracts which affects eyes drastically and also reduces the chances of eye cancer.