10 Nutrients That Only Plant Foods Provide
Are you including sufficient amounts of veggies and fruits in your diet? This is essential because there are some nutrients that you can get only from plant foods and not from animal foods.
1) Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that is not present in cooked animal foods. The vitamin is a powerful antioxidant required for the maintenance of the connective tissue. Deficiency of the vitamin leads to scurvy. A diet full of non-veg doesn’t provide sufficient amounts of vitamin C. So, people should include veggies, fruits or supplements in their diet.
However, you can get sufficient amounts of vitamin C from raw liver, fish roe and eggs.
Vitamin C intake:
- Protects from age-related mental decline.
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves the health of blood vessels
Flavonoids are the most common antioxidants found in plants. They are present in almost all plant foods.
The health benefits offered by fruits and veggies are due the flavanoids present in them. The benefits of flavonoid-rich diets are as follows:
- A reduced risk of heart disease
- Better brain health and function
- Better colon health
Quercitin is the most common flavonoid. High consumption of this flavonoid is associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. Quercetin is found in plant foods such as apples, cranberries, cocoa, onions and capers. It is available as supplements too.
Catechins too belong to the flavanol family and the most abundant ones are catechin and epicatechin.
The health benefits of catechins found in green tea have been widely studied. They lower blood cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and improve the function of blood vessels.
Hesperidin is the most common flavanones. Studies say that it prevents heart disease as well as cancer. But the studies have been done on lab animals. Hesperidin is exclusively found in citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges.
Cyanidin is an anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are antioxidant pigments that give the bright colours to fruits and veggies. The richest sources of cyanidin are deep-coloured berries like blackberries, black raspberries and black currants.
The fibre found in plant foods is known to offer a whole lot of health benefits. Actually dietary fibre refers to those parts of plants that can’t get digested in the upper digestive system. A high fibre intake has the following health benefits:
- It lowers cholesterol
- It reduces the risk of heart disease
- It decreases the risk of constipation
- It lowers the risk of colon cancer
- It increases satiety after a meal, promoting weight loss
Several kinds of fibre are also termed as prebiotics which mean that they improve colon health by promoting the growth of friendly gut bacteria.
Mentioned below are 5 kinds of dietary fibre that are beneficial to our health:
Beta –gluca is aviscous fibre that has a number of health benefits to offer. It is an effective prebiotic that ferments in the colon and stimulates the growth of good bacteria. This helps in the upkeep of improved colon health.
It can also lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and moderate blood sugar levels post meals. The chief sources of beta-glucan are the bran present in oats and barley. Beta-glucan is found in lower amounts in whole grains like rye, wheat, sorghum and rice.
Pectins are prebiotic fibers present in fruits. They are available in different forms and have several health benefits to offer. Pectins are known to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. They also help in easing chronic diarrhea and check levels of blood sugar post meals. Studies also show that pectins can help in preventing colon cancer.
The dietary sources of pectins are fruits like oranges, plums, apples, bananas, guavas, and various berries.
Inulin belongs to the family of fibres called fructans. Inulin and other fructans promote the health of the colon by stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria.
Studies say that diets high in inulin can relieve constipation. However, some individuals suffer from side effects like flatulence and bloating.
Inulin is present in different fruits and veggies like bananas, onions, garlic , leeks and chicory.
Lignanas are different from other dietary fibres. They are polyphenols rather than carbs. When they reach they colon, they get fermented by the intestinal bacteria. The fermentation process turns them into phytoestrogens that are subsequently absorbed by the bloodstream.
Phtyoestrogens provide health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Lignana are present in seeds (flaxseeds the most) and cereal grains.
10) Resistant starch
Starch is the most commonly found carb in plants. It usually gets digested but some of it can be resistant to digestion. That starch falls in the resistant starch category.
Resistant starch promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon thereby improving colon health. Studies also say that resistant starch increases satiety and controls the rise in blood sugar after meals.
The chief sources of resistant starch are whole-grain cereals, pasta, legumes, unripe bananas, and potatoes.
The bottom line
Even if you eat meat, make it a point to consume lots of plant foods too or else you may miss out on several essential nutrients.
Hope you found this post informative!
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