Natural Diet Incomplete Without Various Vegetables
( Originally Published 1936 )
In our natural diet we have in one day's ration some fruit supplying us with quick energy in the form of sugar, with buffer substances to keep the body reaction neutral, with Vitamin C: some cereal to give us energy somewhat more slowly absorbed, and Vitamins A and B: milk with its minerals and vitamins: meat with its essential protein units.
But no natural diet is complete without vegetables.
Predominantly what we get from the vegetables is starch. And in the green vegetables especially, this starch is in a form which takes more time for digestion than the fruit sugars. The energy-producing powers of green vegetables are not manifest for some time, therefore, but are of a reserve nature which is delivered up to the body gradually for several hours. The advantage is obvious.
Green vegetables, therefore, such as beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, parsley, watercress, beet greens, artichokes, are certainly essential ingredients of the natural diet.
Another contribution they make to the diet is the furnishing of roughage, undigestible cellulose and fiber which furnishes bulky and thus stimulates the intestines to natural evacuation.
Minerals are also present in all vegetables—minerals derived from the soil—calcium and iron and, in most parts of the country, iodine.
What may be called the colored vegetables bring good amounts of other essential substances. We all need some pigment in our diet. Pigment means minerals. Iron is red, manganese is purple, copper blue, etc. Also a substance called carotene. Carotene is yellow, and the yellow vegetables—such as carrots and corn—contain good amounts of it. Many things are claimed for the addition of carotene to the diet—the extra addition—but it is probable that these claims are somewhat exaggerated, and that in the diet selected by anyone with a normal appetite there will be enough carotene, anyway.
Carotene is the substance from which the body builds up Vitamin A. Vitamin A appears to have something to do with increasing the body's powers of resistance to infection.
For more concentrated energy we have our old standby, the potato. What would a housekeeper's life be without potatoes? Twenty per cent starch. Delicious in all forms. Amenable to mixture with butter, condiments, cheese, cream nearly anything. Mineral content, but not much vitamin content.
For bread and butter, the same good things may be said as for the potato. Bread, one of the finest of all foods—either white or brown. It is too bad that anything unkind has ever been said of it. Certainly a part of the natural diet.