When it comes to white vegetables that are simply white in every bite the general tendency is to think that they have no nutritional benefits. But do get some of these when you next go marketing even though they will not be the brightest in your shopping basket. White vegetables contain anthoxanthins that have antioxidant [...]


White and all that’s right

Continuing our series on 'coloured vegetables’

When it comes to white vegetables that are simply white in every bite the general tendency is to think that they have no nutritional benefits. But do get some of these when you next go marketing even though they will not be the brightest in your shopping basket.

White vegetables contain anthoxanthins that have antioxidant properties and thus have the power to scavenge free radicals that damage cells in the body. Anthoxanthins are a composite of compounds known as flavones and flavonols and are water-soluble pigments ranging from white to a creamy yellowish colour.

In the vegetables described in this article, anthoxanthins are responsible for the creamy whites of cauliflower, garlic, radish, white cabbage and white mushrooms. White vegetables are usually also a good source of potassium and a plentiful source of vitamin C. Each one of these vegetables also contains their signature and specific nutrients.

Cauliflower, Brassica oleracea var. botrytis, a member of the Cruciferous family of vegetables is rich in vitamin C, folate and has reasonable amounts of potassium and vitamin B6. Much of the folate is lost during cooking so eat cauliflower raw or cook it fast. Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in glucosinolates that are a group of beneficial sulfur-containing compounds that give vegetables in this family the signature smell when they are cooked.

They are known to break down during the chewing and digestion process into active compounds that help to prevent cancer cells from growing. Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It is also high in fibre and low in calories and is ideal for weight watchers.

Cucumber, Cucumis sativus in the family Cucurbitaceae has flesh rich in vitamin A, C and folic acid, while the hard skin is rich in fibre and a range of minerals including magnesium, molybdenum, and potassium. Cucumber also contains silica, a trace mineral that contributes greatly to strengthening of our connective tissues. We are all familiar with the phrase “cool as a cucumber”, which speaks directly of the soothing and cooling nature that cucumbers have when eaten.

Cucumbers are a perfect blend of both fibre and water and help to protect your body from constipation and kidney stones. Cucumber has high alkaline levels, thus regulating the body’s blood pH and neutralizing acidity. The magnesium content of cucumbers ensures proper blood circulation and relaxed nerves.

Garlic, Allium sativum in the onion family Amaryllidaceae, is a common ingredient in every kitchen. Much of the research with respect to garlic focuses on the sulfur-containing compound, allicin which is formed when garlic is cooked, crushed, cut or chewed. Consuming garlic on a daily basis has been shown to help reduce blood pressure levels. Although research is mixed on whether garlic lowers cholesterol it may still benefit the heart due to the formation of ajoene, a compound formed when allicin breaks down that prevents the formation of blood clots. As the sulfur compounds in garlic may stimulate the immune system’s defence against cancer, it may have the potential to reduce tumour growth. Garlic also has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Lotus Root (Nelum ala)
Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera root, as the name implies is the root of the lotus flower, which is an aquatic plant of the family Nelumbonaceae. Not only is lotus root a great source of vitamins and minerals, but this low-calorie food is also a good source of protein, fibre, and phyto-nutrients. The sodium and potassium content in the root work in conjunction to maintain fluid balance. It is also a significant source of dietary fibre and while improving digestion also helps decrease levels of cholesterol as well as the risk of obesity. Lotus root has been found to be a rich source of vitamin C and contains essential B vitamins. Minerals present in lotus root include copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese.

Radish (Rabu)
Radish, Raphanus sativus an edible root vegetable in the family Cruciferae comes in several different types with the white varieties being either ball shaped or long. Radish is best known for its detoxifying effect on the liver and stomach. It is also a natural diuretic, purifying the kidney and urinary systems and relieving inflammation. A fair source of vitamin C, radish also contains small amounts of iron, potassium and folate as well as reasonable quantities of fibre and is low in calories making it an ideal choice for those trying to lose weight. Some other positive elements found in radish include detoxifying agents called indoles, a substance that may potentially fight cancer working alongside sulfur compounds.

White cabbage
White cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata in the family Cruciferae is low in calories and rich in fibre. As you can fill up with cabbage it is frequently recommended for people who want to lose weight in a healthy way. One of the most celebrated health benefits of cabbage is its powerful antioxidant quality thus scavenging free radicals which can be detrimental to overall health and are major contributors to cancer and heart diseases. It also contains sulphorphane which has potent anti-cancer properties.

Cabbage is a great source of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are integral in the protection of bones and the onset of conditions like osteoporosis. It is also rich in vitamins that include vitamin C, K and folate.

White mushrooms
White mushroom, Agaricus bisporus also known as button mushroom is one of many edible mushrooms. These are really fungi, with their cell walls being made of chitin, a cholesterol lowering dietary fibre. They are the best plant-based sources of niacin (vitamin B3) that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

All mushrooms contain good amounts of potassium that have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure. White mushrooms are good sources of selenium that may help prevent prostrate cancer. Additionally eating mushrooms regularly is thought to protect against breast and other hormone related cancers in postmenopausal women as they inhibit an enzyme called aromatase which produces estrogen that stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells.

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