In order to help people get the health benefits of vegetables, without actually eating them, vegetable supplements are becoming increasingly popular.
Made from dehydrated vegetables, dried vegetables and fruits or juice concentrates, these supplements may be able to fill in the gaps created by personal preference and seasonal availability.
It is said that “variety is the spice of life” and when it comes to fruits and vegetables, variety may indeed lead to better health.
In a perfect world, we would all eat a serving each of green, dark green, red, dark red, orange and yellow vegetables or fruits every day. In the real world, we are lucky to get a red and a green, which is usually the lettuce and tomato on our hamburgers, and not actually equivalent to a serving of each.
Vegetable supplements are an easy way to get all of the different colors every day.
Why are the colors so important? Each color is associated with a different antioxidant. Antioxidants break the chain reaction that can lead to cancer.
The best known antioxidant is vitamin C, but there are many others, some with long and complicated names. Vitamin C is absolutely essential to every cell of the human body, but cannot be created by the human body and is quickly used up, because the body does not store it. Vitamin C is not related to a specific color and is found in most fresh or dehydrated vegetables and fruits.
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The antioxidants known as carotenoids are divided into two groups: carotenes and xanthophylls.
Carotenes are used by the human body to create vitamin A, which is important for good vision and healthy bones. They are found in the orange fruits and vegetables, like carrots. Whereas vitamin A supplements may be toxic in large doses, beta-carotene supplements are generally harmless because the body only converts it to vitamin A as needed.
Veggie supplements containing dehydrated vegetables should be as safe and non-toxic as the vegetables themselves, unless they are laden with preservatives and additives.
The group of antioxidants known as Xanthophylls contains lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein is found in dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale. It is particularly important for eye health and decreases the risk of age related diseases of the eye, such as macular degeneration, a condition in which the central vision is lost and only the peripheral vision remains. It is also found in vegetable supplements that contain the dried vegetables kale, spinach and broccoli.
Zeaxanthin is found in broccoli and numerous other fruits and vegetables. It is more common than lutein, but scientific evidence indicates that it is just as important to the health of the eyes and may reduce the risk of developing cataracts, a condition in which the lens inside of the eye clouds and yellows, interfering with vision, sometimes leading to blindness.
Anthocyanins are antioxidants found in dark red or purple vegetables and fruits, such as beets and cherries. Recent research suggests that anthocyanins may be the antioxidant that prevents Type II diabetes in people whose diet is rich in these colored fruits and vegetables. In dried vegetables and fruits, the anthocyanins remain intact and can be used by the human body.
Lycopene is the antioxidant that makes tomatoes bright red. Frequent intake of foods containing lycopene has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. It reduces the effects of UV light on the skin, as well. Although some vitamin supplements contain lycopene, vegetable supplements may provide a more readily absorbed form.
Vegetable supplements also provide the most readily absorbed and safest form of vitamin E. They provide numerous amino acids, protein, carbohydrates and of course vitamin C.
Vitamin C can be easily isolated and is readily absorbed by the body. Supplements containing vitamin C are a safe and easy way for people to get the amount that their body needs every day to function efficiently.
The other antioxidants found in fresh and dehydrated vegetables can not be easily isolated, may not be readily absorbed in the digestive system and may be unsafe at high doses. Supplements containing the isolated form of these antioxidants are not believed to provide the health benefits of the whole foods.
On the other hand, fruit and veggie supplements containing dehydrated vegetables or fruits, dried vegetables or fruits, or vegetable or fruit juice concentrate is the best way for people to get those other antioxidants because they contain the whole fruit or veggie.
Whole food vegetable supplements are the natural choice for people who want the total components of the veggie and who don't have the time to always eat healthy.
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