We all know that fresh vegetables are the best things we could possibly eat to ensure good health. However, there are a lot of people who just won't make the change to a diet based on fresh raw vegetables but still want the nutrition and health benefits. This has led to the popularity of vegetable supplements.
These supplements are made from dehydrated or dried whole vegetables as well as fruit juices or concentrates and offer a way to accommodate picky eaters and the low quality of out of season produce.
Ideally, we should get a lot of variety in our diet where vegetables are concerned and eat a serving of green, dark green, purple, orange, red and yellow vegetables and fruits each day. Of course, this doesn't always happen and most of us are lacking in both variety and number of servings of these healthy foods.
You can get all the colors of the fruit and vegetable rainbow each day with vegetable supplements. The colors do matter too with each color indicating the presence of a different antioxidant; the compounds which can prevent cancer.
What are these important nutrients?
Vitamin C is the most well known of these antioxidants, but there are many different ones, most with much less memorable names. Vitamin C is one antioxidant which is not tied to one color, being present in some quantity in most fruits and vegetables, whether fresh or dehydrated.
The Carotenoids: these include Carotenes, which the body needs to make vitamin A to protect your vision and your skeletal system. You'll find these in the orange fruits and vegetables. Unlike vitamin A supplements, there's no risk of toxicity from carotenes, since your body only uses it as needed.
The other type of carotenoids are the Xanthophylls (lutein and zeaxanthin). Dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens, broccoli and spinach are rich in Lutein. This antioxidant supports vision and reduces the risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration. Zeaxanthin is abundant in broccoli and is present in many other fruits and vegetables. Like Lutein, it helps to protect your eyes from cataracts and other ailments.
Dark red and purple fruits and vegetables like cherries and beets are rich in the antioxidants known as anthocyanins. According to some studies, this antioxidant may play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Lycopene is an antioxidant which you'll find in tomatoes and other red fruits. Getting plenty of lycopene rich foods in your diet reduces your risk of some cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. It also seems to protect the skin from solar UV radiation. Whole foods are the best way for your body to absorb and use lycopene.
In fact, the whole foods which are used to make vegetable supplements are the best way to get the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients your body needs since nutrients from whole foods can easily be absorbed and used.
Other than vitamin C, which can be used by the human body as an isolate, antioxidants are not easily isolated, are not efficiently absorbed or used on their own and can even be toxic in large doses.
When you can't get enough raw fruits and vegetables into your diet, you're far better off using a food supplement made from whole fruits and vegetables to help fill the nutritional gaps. You'll get the full benefit of all of their nutrients in a form your body is designed to use.