The beet has a long history of cultivation strecthing back to the second millenium BC. The plant was probably domesticated somewhere along the Mediterranean, whence it was later spread to Babylonia by the 8th century BC and as far west as China by 850 AD. Beets’ potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies. Beets are also particularly rich in the B vitamin folate. The usually deep-red roots of garden beet are eaten boiled either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as cold borscht, is a popular dish.
2. Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin
Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato. It may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as preliminary studies on animals have revealed that it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance. The dark orange vegetable family outdoes all others in vitamin A content. Other dark orange vegetable that share these wonderful qualities include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
Crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, collards and turnips contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have recently discovered that 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Along with their fabulous flavor, once you get the hang of cooking them, they may have an added bonus: they may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.
4. The Alliums
Allium is the onion genus, with about 1250 species, making it one of the largest plant genera in the world. It includes foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots, which contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers, they can also help the liver deal with toxins and carcinogens. Onions may be especially beneficial for women, who are at increased risk of osteoporosis as they go through menopause, by destroying osteoclasts so that they do not break down bone. Some of the pleiomeric chemicals in onions have the potential to alleviate or prevent sore throat.
There are many foods within the bean family, including the commen bean, runner beans, soybeans, peas, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), vetches and lupins. An excellent source of protein, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, beans are flavorful, nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile. Some kinds of raw beans and especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (the lectin Phytohaemagglutinin) that must be destroyed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.