The constant refrain you hear across homes, in kitchens, over the phone is “Have you eaten your veggies today?” And you’ll also hear the weary affirmative from the other side, and everyone will nod in agreement, ‘coz vegetables are good for you.

Now why exactly are vegetables good? Well, for starters, eating more vegetables can help you reduce stress, increase attentiveness, reduce cravings and lose weight. But, are you eating enough? Should you eat more? Well, eating more veggies benefits your body immensely. You’ll realise an increased attentiveness, stable blood sugar, lower risk against high cholesterol and heart disease, your taste buds will balance out and vegetables will restore the flora in your gut.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share my reasons for making vegetables an important aspect of the day’s meals.

Well, the primary reason for eating vegetables is a reason to chew! In our busy lives, we’re used to gulping down a glass of water and stuffing our faces. But take a plate of fresh, either lightly steamed or raw vegetables or even a tossed salad – and you’ll realise you’ll have to chew on it. Chewing stimulates the production of salivary digestive enzymes in saliva, and this enables the food to be released into the small intestine more easily. It also stimulates taste receptors in the mouth, that then trigger the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach that processes those hard-to-digest proteins. The more you chew, the better you digest and you won’t face problems of gas, bloating, and other forms of indigestion.

Another reason to pile those vegetables on your plate is they aid in the release of toxins. You need the bulk from the fibrous cellulose of vegetables to help your digestive tract function well. If your body is lacking sufficient vegetable cellulose, up to 94% bile, with cholesterol and toxins attached, is re-absorbed by the liver and the blood instead of being eliminated through bowel movements. This then raises cholesterol and increases risk of cardiovascular disease.

That brings me to vegetables protecting you from heart disease. We all know cholesterol is bad for the heart. But, are you aware that there is the good cholesterol and bad cholesterol? Cholesterol becomes bad through the process of oxidation. Vegetables, being the number one source of antioxidants in the diet, neutralises the process. So, if you aren’t eating enough vegetables, antioxidant levels crash, allowing the fats in the blood to oxidize, and voila - high cholesterol and heart disease.

So until next time, chew on those vegetables. They’re contributing to your well being on so many levels!