To peel or not to peel? Veggies have evolved to provide humankind with more nutrition than most any other food on earth, yet myths about their preparation and nutrition persist. Fortunately, the fables at the table are easy to sort out.
An old Greek myth has it that one of our earliest veggies was derived from a beautiful woman, Cynara, who enraged the jealous Zues with her frequent trips home to earth. Zeus adored her, so naturally he turned her into the world’s first artichoke.
No word on whether Zeus regretted his hasty move, but the world should not. Veggies have evolved to provide humankind with more nutrition than most any other food on earth. Yet we still like to pepper our veggie with myths, almost as much as with dips.
Fresh or frozen? Oil or water? Red or white? The list of misconceptions about veggie preparation and nutrition is long, but it is easy sort out. Veggies often are simply misunderstood, which may be why so few kids – just one in 10 – get enough of them. This is despite recommendations that half a child’s diet should consist of fruits and veggies.
Following are five common veggie myths, plus a bonus kid myth, and the facts that debunk them.
1) Blinded by the bright: While the colors of vegetables do speak to the spectrum of nutrients they carry, this does not mean the more color, the healthier. Your average white cauliflower is bursting with antioxidants and is a solid source of protein, magnesium and vitamins C and B6. White cabbage, meanwhile, is packed with vitamins A, B, C and K along with calcium, iron and fiber.
2) Thaw-ful misconceptions: True, veggies fresh from the earth will be the healthiest you can find, but we’re not getting freshly picked veggies at the supermarket. Those babies have likely traveled a distance to get to the store, and lost many of their nutrients along the way. Veggies that are quick-frozen will maintain their vitamins and minerals even if thawed a month later. Similarly, canning certain veggies, such as spinach and pumpkin, might increase the amount of vitamins contained in each.
3) Oil or water – don’t nix: The research made headlines: Fried veggies are better than boiled. But let’s not confuse French fries with sautéed spinach. The research shows that veggies cooked in extra virgin olive oil contain higher levels of antioxidant-packed phenols, which can fight against cancer and other illnesses. Boiled veggies, meanwhile, spill their nutrients into the water. Broccoli, for example, will leach out 90 percent of its valuable nutrients.
4) Starch-and-bull stories: It’s not the spud that’s a dud; it’s what we put on it. Potatoes have gotten a bad rap in the veggie world because we tend to eat them in the worst ways: fried and/or with a little too much butter, cheese, ranch dressing, sour cream and bacon bits. In truth, a medium potato is a terrific source of vitamins C and B6, potassium and fiber, the latter of which keeps little bellies satisfied longer.
5) Stripping away the truth: Put that peeler down. For many vegetables, including carrots, cucumbers and our friends the potatoes, the peel holds most of the nutritional benefits. Veggie skins may include iron, potassium, antioxidants and fiber to keep things moving along. Also, in most cases plain water is fine for washing. That waxy coating on some veggies is harmless.
And our bonus kid myth:
Kids are just fussy: Our kids are not part of a worldwide conspiracy to rid the globe of veggies. Rather, they simply have many more taste buds than adults, which means some foods, including vegetables, overwhelm their sensitive palates. Kids aren’t being fussy, they’re responding to their bodies’ reactions. Babies in fact have as many as three times the number of taste buds as their parents – up to 30,000. As baby grows, the number of buds declines and taste matures.
If Greek myths are to be believed, we have Zues to thank for one of our most popular grownup dips – artichoke. For littler, more sensitive palates, we offer all-natural, MSG-free Vegy Vida. Created by humans, for humans – of all sizes.