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HEALTH MATTERS: Veggies for longevity

Here’s a nice list of veggies you might want to pick at the grocery this month.


ASPARAGUS for vitamins C & K; folic acid

Expecting a baby? Increasing your consumption of folic acid (a type of vitamin B) before and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects — i.e. birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord that occur in the first month of pregnancy – which have no cure. Folic acid may also prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease (disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, marked by hand tremors, stiffness or slowing of movement). An asparagus-rich diet is traditionally prescribed to those with edema (swelling or “manas”) because of its diuretic properties, which means it promotes urine production. 

BROCCOLI for vitamins C, K & A; folic acid

Broccoli has the highest concentration of sulforaphane, a chemical compound that helps reduce the risk of cancer by preventing cancer cells from multiplying, and by directing them into the body’s cancer-cell disposal system.



A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. Cauliflower’s fibre content makes it a great choice for digestive system support. The sulforaphane in cauliflower can help protect your stomach lining by preventing overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori, a gastritis-causing bacterium that also commonly causes ulcer. A word of caution: Goitrogens found naturally in cauliflower could interfere with thyroid function, which can cause goiterIf you have untreated thyroid problems, consult a doctor before eating cauliflower.


EGGPLANT for dietary fibre, potassium, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin & panthotenic acid

Nasunin, which gives eggplant its purple-blue peel, is a powerful antioxidant and free-radical scavenger that may ward off damage to your cell membranes (especially in the brain) and can fight cancer by restricting the growth of new blood vessels. The eggplant’s high fiber content may also relieve occasional constipation, lower risk of hemorrhoids, and protect your colon against certain cancers and diverticular disease (pertaining to colon).


GREEN BEANS for vitamins K, C & A; folic acid, manganese & fibre

Green beans are popular among those trying to lose weight because they are low in calories. The nutrients contained in green beans support healthy blood vessels and blood pressure, and build strong bones. 


KALE for carotenoids & glucosinolates

Fruits and veggies high in carotenoids, such as Kale, help heal eye-related damage and decrease risks of cataracts and macular degeneration (loss of vision due to retina damage). Eating lots of cruciferous vegetables also demonstrated reduced risk of developing breast cancer, which may be due to glucosinolates, a group of plant nutrients which may slow down estrogen metabolism and protect cells from harmful mutations.

OKRA for vits C & K; calcium, folic acid, magnesium, vit-B6 & fibre

The use of the viscous fibres from okra is the cornerstone of Dr. Jenkin’s research at the University of Toronto. His research revealed that an okra-rich diet rivaled first-line statin drugs in their ability to control high blood cholesterol levels, without the potential side effects of statin (which may include although rarely, liver failure and skeletal muscle damage).


ONIONS for quercetin

Onions have quercetin, a plant flavanoid that squashes and prevents free radicals from doing damage to your body – like turning LDL cholesterol into a more dangerous oxidised form – as well as reduces your chances of developing osteoporosis. Onions help keep the blood slippery and reduce deadly clots that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. They also stop the growth of the ulcer-producing bacteria H. pylori.


SPINACH for calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and vits B6, C & E

A study revealed that moderate consumption of spinach offers DNA protection by preventing oxidation, which have profound implications for cancer prevention and slowing down the aging process; it also increases folic acid levels while reducing inflammation markers such as homocysteine. Spinach is also good for those with heart disease, bone problems and diabetes.

SWEET POTATO for vits A, C & B;, manganese, fiber & potassium; magnesium, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, & panthotenic acid

Sweet potatoes make awesome first baby food.  It is also a great favorite among fitness athletes for its high nutritional value, sweet flavour, and low glycemic index. Vitamins C and A are antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Vitamin B6 helps reduce homocysteine levels; high homocysteine levels may be linked to increased heart attacks or strokes.


GOT A HEALTH PROBLEM? Send your query to and Dr. Rachel Deniega will be happy to share her medical expertise with you.

Originally published in OFW Pinoy Star magazine’s September 2013 issue. Subscribe here now.