Thanksgiving side dishes are tasty and nutritious

The sides of your holiday meal are just as important as the main course. Micronutrients are abundant in colorful vegetables such as green beans, collard greens, roasted potatoes, and carrots. How you prepare these vegetables will determine how much nutrition you can get out of them this holiday season.

As a biochemist, I know that the food we eat is composed of many chemical substances which are essential for our growth and function. These chemical substances, called nutrients, can be classified into macronutrients, such as carbohydrates and fats, and micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables are rich in micronutrients, which the human body needs for metabolism (or converting food to energy) as well as forming and maintaining cells and tissues. Micronutrients are classified as minerals, water-soluble vitamins, and fat-soluble vitamins.


Vegetables contain a variety of minerals. Julie Pollock

Greens such as collards, kale, and spinach are good sources of calcium and magnesium. These two minerals are essential for bone and muscle health.

Magnesium plays a key role in the production of proteins, metabolic function and DNA repair. accurate synthesis of DNA is important for protecting your body against diseases like cancer. Calcium influences metabolism, strengthens nerve impulses and helps to regulate pH in the body. Your senses and memory depend on nerve impulses.

You were right, Popeye, greens are also an iron source. Iron is essential for oxygen-binding proteins like hemoglobin and Myoglobin, which transfer and store oxygen within your body. Iron is also needed by the human body to produce energy, prevent oxidative damage, and create hormones.

High levels of potassium are found in orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Potassium helps maintain low blood pressure, muscle movement, and nerve impulses. White potatoes contain very high levels of potassium, despite not being a colorful veggie.

Water-soluble vitamins

Structures of water-soluble vitamins found in vegetables. Julie Pollock

Most orange and green vegetables are rich in vitamin C . Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect your cells from certain types of damage that can be caused by reactive molecules called free radicals.

Vitamin C is also essential for the production of collagen, the main protein in the skin. Vitamin C is not a cure-all. However, it can keep your skin soft and help you avoid diseases such as scurvy.

It is also important in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which both regulate pleasure and happiness. It is also important for the creation of healthy blood cells and in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate joy and pleasure.

Fat-soluble vitamins

Structures of fat-soluble vitamins found in vegetables. Julie Pollock

vitamin K is one of the most important vitamins that you can get from green vegetables. This includes leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, as well as Brussels sprouts. Vitamin K is a component of enzymes that make proteins for bone and proteins to help clot the blood after an injury.

Vitamin 0 can be found in orange and spinach vegetables. The main source of vitamin A found in vegetables is beta-carotene. This is broken down into two molecules: active vitamin A when consumed. Vitamin A is important for vision, cell differentiation, reproduction, and bone health.

Micronutrient absorption

It is important to consume vegetables rich in micronutrients, but it is also important that your body is able to absorb and transport these nutrients to the cells. The macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are the main components of our food, can be absorbed very quickly into your bloodstream.

However, only 3-10% of certain micronutrients are actually distributed throughout the body. The other ingredients and factors that are in your food may affect how well you absorb vitamins and minerals.

It is, therefore, important to cook vegetables in such a way as to enhance the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals.

Iron is a good example. Specifically, the in your food. Heme iron is only found in animal products, and it is easily absorbed.

A heme does not bind plant-based iron found in orange and green vegetables and therefore cannot be absorbed as easily. can increase iron absorption by consuming vitamin C with vegetables. A squeeze of orange or lemon juice will not only improve the taste of your vegetables but also the micronutrients they contain.

Oil is a good source of dietary fat that can help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, and vitamin K. Vitamin K is a good example, as green vegetables are the primary source of vitamin K. The other minerals and vitamin sources discussed can be obtained also from animal products or legumes, which contain some dietary fat.

After consumption, the vitamin K is packaged in structures known as micelles or Lipoproteins, which can be transported in the bloodstream. It’s therefore a good idea for you to cook your greens in some fat, such as olive oil, avocado, butter, or bacon grease.

If you’re wondering if the collard greens in the south are as healthy as a leaf of raw green, consider the biochemistry. Raw greens are rich in fiber and minerals, but they don’t have the same vitamin K content as those cooked in oil.

Enjoy the time spent at the table. Fill your plate up with all your favorite foods. Don’t go fat-free to allow your body to process and utilize the micronutrients.

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