Vegetables are wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, so we all would benefit from more vegetables in our diet. They are also wonderful foods to help our liver do mini detox on daily basis. They also lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and keep our hearts and circulation strong. But some vegetables can be more difficult to digest than others. This does not mean that we should not be eating them, but there may be difference in the way these vegetables should be prepared to make them more easily digestible.
I find the following to be common misconceptions about increasing vegetable intake.
Be aware of :
1. Bottled green juices: I don’t think they count as increasing vegetable intake as they are still processed foods and do not add much benefit to the diet; fresh food is always better.
2. Vegetable juices / green smoothies:
While these are full of vitamins and minerals , they can still be hard on digestion if taken with pulp, in too much quantity, with lot of fruit mixed in it , taken by person with wrong constitution/ body type,or taken by person with impaired digestion.
When we eat salads as raw greens, traditionally lettuce, cucumber, carrots, celery are salad vegetables as they are easy to digest. Also when we chew the salad, the act of chewing stimulates production of digestive juices, but also mixes enzymes and friendly bacteria from mouth with the vegetable which is what starts their digestion in the mouth. This action cannot be mimicked in any raw juice made by juicer. Also the quantity matters.
It is better to avoid them as a regular intake especially if you get gas / bloating / loose stools with them. Some green juices can be used in small quantity for medicinal use. Also how they work in different body types can be different. Discuss with your provider if they would be a good option for you.
3. Nightshade vegetables, which are potato, tomato, eggplant, and bell pepper, have certain toxic chemicals called alkaloids in them. This does not mean nobody should eat them. But it is a fact that these may aggravate inflammation , allergies, joint pain, muscle pain, headache in people with an autoimmune condition or weak liver. Please discuss with your provider if these are good choice for you.
4. Cruciferous group of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts can cause gas because they are difficult to digest. They should be regularly eaten if digested well. They are wonderful group of vegetables, and they work great for cancer prevention, and hormonal health, if digested well. Usually the best way to eat them is to blanch and wash them before adding spices. These vegetables can also be had steamed, sautéed, or roasted, but it is usually not good to eat them raw. It would be good to always add digestive spices to these vegetables. Please discuss with your provider.
Easy to digest vegetables that can be eaten freely by people who have compromised digestion are cooked carrot, beets, summer squashes, cooked green vegetables, sweet potato (in moderation because of sugar content), green beans, sweet peas.
Again, these are general guidelines, please talk to your Ayurvedic nutrition guide for specific guidelines.