ALL ABOUT VEGETABLES
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© May 2022, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is solely the opinion of the author and for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Table Of Contents
Fresh, Frozen Or Canned?
Cooking And Preparing Vegetables
Toppings For Vegetables
Children And Vegetables
Vegetables Versus Fruits
Herbs Versus Vegetables
Definition of a vegetable. Vegetables are defined botanically as the roots, stems, leaves and flowers of plants. This is important because some foods that are called vegetables, such as squash and peppers, are not vegetables. Instead, they are fruits.
Importance of vegetables in the diet. Today, eating vegetables, properly cooked, is essential for health. Anyone who does not eat cooked vegetables is not healthy, no matter how well one appears.
We pass along this observation based upon working with over 60,000 people over the past 41 years. A section later in this article discusses why vegetables are so important in the diet today.
Definition of a fruit. Fruits are defined botanically as the fleshy part of an expanded ovary of a plant. You can identify fruits easily because they contain seeds.
Why we do not recommend eating any fruits.
- Fruits are much more yin in macrobiotic terms. This is a critical topic in nutrition that very few nutritionists or doctors know about or pay attention to. We think this is a deliberate flaw in their education designed to mix up the public in the area of food and diet.
Yang and yin are ancient concepts taught in the Hebrew Bible, and in Holy books around the world. Credit for the concepts is often given to the ancient Taoists, but the idea is much older. For details, read Yin Disease and Understanding Yang And Yin.
- Fruits are much less nutrient-dense than vegetables. Some will argue that some fruits are extremely high in anti-oxidants and other phyto-nutrients. However, in terms of general nutrient density, fruit is a lot lower than vegetables. A major reason for this is that fruits contain more water and sugars than vegetables. Both of these are more yin chemicals, which we want to avoid.
- Fruits generally have a much worse balance of minerals than vegetables. In particular, fruit is lower in zinc and selenium, minerals that are extremely important for everyone to eat today.
- Fruits absorb much more toxic potassium and other toxins from commercial fertilizers and pesticides than do vegetables. This is a very serious problem. For details, read Toxic Potassium.
- Most fruits contain too much sugar. This upsets the blood sugar of many people. Much worse, however, is that the sugars feed yeast organisms and parasites inside the body. Or research indicates that it is impossible to truly balance the intestinal flora or to rid the body of parasites if one eats fruits. It does not matter that the sugars in fruits are natural.
- Fruits often harbor dangerous bacteria, fungi, and parasites. This is due to their high sugar content and more yin nature. The problem is made much worse because fruits are often eaten raw.
- Fruit-eating is very harmful for the teeth. This is due to their high sugar content and due to the presence of fruit acids. In fact, fruits can be acid-forming in the body, a fact that is not acknowledged in many nutrition textbooks.
- Fruits are high in toxic forms of minerals that we call the Amigos. These are oxides, carbonates and other biounavailable and irritating forms of minerals. They are unfortunately common in most soils in the world.
When nutritionists tell you that fruit is a mineral-rich food, they do not distinguish between the healthy compounds of these minerals and the very irritating compounds, which are higher in fruits than in vegetables.
- Some fruits are slightly toxic, including avocado and all coconut products. Eating them leaves a toxin in the liver.
- Most commercial and organic fruit today is very hybridized. The result is even lower nutritional quality and a more yin and therefore harmful product.
- Some fruit simply cannot be grown today without the use of toxic sprays and insecticides, either chemical or natural. Even fruit classified as organic often contains ‘natural’ herbicides that are toxic. The organic standards are not strict enough.
- Many fruits are picked green and ripened during transit with toxic chemicals. Otherwise they would not survive the trip from tropical nations, for example. Some of these chemicals are absorbed into the fruit.
- A number of fruits, including apples, cucumbers, and others are sprayed with a chemical coating in order to preserve them. Some of this coating is absorbed into the fruit. Consumers of fruit are not told about this processing of most fruit in the world.
For more details, read Fruit-Eating.
VEGETABLES THAT ARE REALLY FRUITS
These are all tomatoes, all peppers (both sweet and hot peppers), all squashes, pumpkins, eggplant, okra, cucumbers and other gourds.
Potatoes are also fruits because they contain seeds. Technically, they are called tubers. Potatoes are not roots in the same way as are carrots, onions, rutabagas, and others. The reason is that the ‘eyes’ of a potato are seeds. This makes the potato a type of fruit.
Pumpkin and winter squashes (butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash are not too yin, so a portion up to twice a week is okay, though not highly recommended. We do not recommend summer squashes such as zucchini and sunburst squash because these are much more yin.
THE DEVELOPENT DIET EMPHASIZES PROPERLY-COOKED VEGETABLES
This is very important to understand. It means that the main ingredient in every meal is to be vegetables. The vegetables must also be cooked properly and not overcooked.
We do not call the development diet a “vegetable-based” diet because, to many people and many physicians, this means a more-or-less vegetarian diet in which meat plays a minor role. This is not true of the development diet.
Why not eat a vegetarian or almost vegetarian diet? Good quality meats, fish, eggs and diary products are among the most important human foods imaginable. They are needed in the diet every day.
We find vegetarian-like diets such as the Hallelujah diet and even the Mediterranean Diet quite harmful. We consider all vegetarian websites, books, cookbooks, and other literature a dangerous fraud.
One may feel better on these diets for a while for a number of reasons. However, they are deficient diets that eventually ruin one’s health. For details, read The Hallelujah diet, The Mediterranean Diet and Vegetarian Diets.
The best source of alkaline reserve minerals of any food group. Vegetables are exceedingly nutritious, particularly in minerals, anti-oxidants, and hundreds of other nutrients. These cannot be obtained from any other foods. For example, farmers know that vegetables deplete the soil of minerals more than any other crops.
Most all bodies are mineral-starved today thanks to modern N-P-K agriculture, food refining, stress and poor quality diets. For these reasons, everyone needs to eat plenty of cooked vegetables.
Cooking is needed because human beings cannot digest tough vegetable fibers, within which are most of the minerals in vegetables. We find that anyone who eats salad in any quantity demineralizes and therefore harms the body.
The effects are worst for women, who are prone to osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis is a type of demineralization.
Excellent for weight loss. Eating a lot of cooked vegetables can help anyone lose lots of weight without feeling hungry. In contrast, fruit will keep weight on.
Vegetables are best eaten:
- Organically grown
- Cooked until soft, not raw, crunchy or al dente. Pressure-cooking is the best method to preserve the nutritional quality of vegetables. Steaming and crock pots are also good cooking methods.
We do not recommend other cooking methods such as roasting, boiling, baking, frying, stir-frying or sautéing, broiling, deep frying, or tempura style. High-temperature cooking always produces toxic AGES (advanced glycation end products).
In general, we do not recommend fermenting, which often produces toxic Aldehydes.
- Locally grown is very good, but only if the vegetables are of excellent quality.
- Eat cooked vegetables three times daily. It is best to cook them fresh for each meal, but it is okay to cook a lot of them once or twice daily and eat them all day.
Roots. The best are all onions, leeks, carrots, rutabaga, daikon, scallions and shallots. The others we classify as ‘’foods for occasional use’. We don’t recommend them, except for once in a while, because they do not contain enough of the chemicals needed for development.
They include yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and others. I suggest avoiding red beets, which are slightly toxic.
The cabbage family or cruciferous vegetables. The best are red cabbage, cauliflower (including the leaves and stems around the outside), and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli is okay, but at this time brocolini, also called baby broccoli or brocolette is better for development. (Rutabaga and daikon are also cruciferous, but I listed them under roots).
Greens. Daily ones are green onions and green beans. Other greens are for occasional use only such as spinach, bok choy, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, parsley, watercress, cilantro, mustard greens, collard greens, carrot tops, and a few others. Some kale is reported to contain high levels of thallium, a toxic metal, so I would avoid it for now.
How much? 70-80% of each meal needs to be properly cooked daily vegetables. We know this is a lot. However, the bodies seem to need this much at this time for rapid development and excellent health.
Also, eat a little of 10 or more different vegetables at each meal. At one time we recommended eating fewer different vegetables at a meal. However, recently we find that eating a small amount of many different vegetables is much better.
Do not eat raw vegetables. I know this goes against popular opinion. The reasons are explained below.
Do not eat the nightshade family vegetables. These include tomatoes, white and red potatoes, eggplant and all peppers. The only exception is that a little ground cayenne pepper is fine as a spice.
Do not eat much asparagus, artichoke, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, algae, spirulina, summer squashes (zucchini, sunburst and others), or most mushrooms, including kombucha tea. These are all more yin or somewhat toxic or irritating to the intestinal tract.
Fresh vegetables are generally best. The next best if you cannot find fresh vegetables are canned vegetables. Frozen vegetables do not work well for development.
Root vegetables deserve special mention and are often ignored. They have been staple foods in most civilizations for thousands of years. Roots are among the most concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals available to us.
With each meal eat carrots, leeks, onions (white, yellow, green and red), shallots, scallions, daikon (white radish) are the best.
Yang. Roots are more yang in macrobiotic terms because they grow underground. This quality is very beneficial for everyone today. Roots also store very well, which helps if you do not enjoy shopping every few days.
Starchy. Most roots are starchy vegetables, which means they will fill you up quite well if you eat enough of them. Yet they are far easier to digest than other starches such as grains, breads or dried beans.
Cooking roots. We recommend cooking all your vegetables together because it is easiest. Cut roots such as rutabaga into thin slices. Cut carrots and onions into thicker slices.
You will need to experiment a little and you will find you can cook all vegetables together in a pressure-cooker for about 2 minutes, or steam them for about 30 minutes to break down their tough fibers and turn their starches into sugars.
The best are cauliflower, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga.
Much research lately has focused on the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables. All are rich sources of sulfur of a particular kind, along with hundreds of other nutrients and phytochemicals. These amazing foods contain substances that can help prevent cancer and many other life-threatening conditions.
These are good vegetables, but they are quite a bit more yin and most do not contain enough of the chemicals needed for development so most are not for daily use on the development diet.
Some people only eat greens, thinking these are the best vegetables. Please do not do this.
Kale can absorb too much thallium, making this vegetable possibly toxic, depending upon where it is grown. I would avoid most kale at this time.
Do not eat salad, except perhaps a small amount as a garnish if you wish. The problems with salads are:
1. Raw vegetables are much more yin than cooked ones. Eating more yin food is generally quite harmful for health.
2. Our bodies cannot absorb many minerals from raw vegetables because we cannot break down their tough vegetable fibers, which contain most of the minerals in a vegetable. Cooking breaks down the fiber, and is a major reason for cooking vegetables.
3. For the reason above, salad is not a particularly nutritious food, other than its high content of fiber.
4. Salads have so much roughage they fill up the stomach and cause a person to eat less of the essential foods - cooked vegetables, blue corn, and some animal protein.
5. In restaurants, in particular, I would completely avoid salads because they are often unclean and can harbor bacteria, viruses and parasites.
The development diet includes 10-12 ounces of carrot juice daily or as an alternative have 1-2 ounces of wheat grass juice, but only up to twice a week.
Vegetables juices are nutritious. The problem with more juices is that juice is extremely yin. This is so because the vegetables are eaten raw, and breaking up the vegetables in the juicer makes them even more yin.
Many people enjoy vegetables in soups. These are easy to prepare and nutritious. However, soups tend to add too much water to one’s food, which dilutes the digestive juices and interferes with digestion.
For this reason, please avoid most soups. If you want to have soup, it needs to be very thick. That is, it should be mainly cooked vegetables and very little water.
Fiber is an important component of vegetables. Most of it is cellulose, an insoluble fiber that we cannot digest.
Fiber helps keep food moving through the intestines and helps prevent constipation, diverticulosis, diverticulitis and even cancer. Fiber also assists in the production of vitamins in the intestines and can support the proliferation of friendly bacteria.
If one does not eat many vegetables, the diet may lack fiber. This is especially true if one eats mainly refined grains such as white flour, white bread, white pasta and white rice, all of which have had their fiber removed.
MINERALS FROM VEGETABLES
Vegetables are an essential source of dozens of minerals. Organically grown vegetables generally contain quite a lot more minerals than commercially grown vegetables. The mineral content also depends upon where and exactly how the food was grown.
Cooking vegetables greatly enhances the availability of the minerals in most vegetables by breaking down the tough vegetable fibers and often by concentrating the food so that more can be eaten easily. Cooking does not destroy minerals at all, although it reduces the level of vitamins C and E, to some degree.
Here are more details about a few of the main minerals found in vegetables.
Iron. Dark green leafy greens and beets are very high in iron. However, the iron they contain is not as biologically available as that found in meats and eggs.
Magnesium and chlorophyl. Leafy vegetables are rich in chlorophyll, a magnesium-containing substance that plants use to generate energy from sunlight.
In fact, all vegetables are good sources of magnesium, a mineral everyone needs in abundance and one that is deficient in most people’s diets today.
Sulfur. The radish, onion and cabbage families are excellent sources of natural sulfur compounds. Sulfur compounds are essential for detoxification in the liver, for the brain, for the skin and the health of all connective tissue (disulfide bonds).
Iodine. This is found in some vegetables, particularly sea vegetables such as kelp. Everyone on a nutritional balancing takes kelp capsules, an easy way to consume this superb vegetable. Most people are very deficient in iodine today. Other sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, hiiki, dulse and others also contain plenty of iodine, but have less alginates to soak up the mercury that these vegetables also contain. For this reason, I only recommend kelp. For more details, read Kelp on this website.
ORGANICALLY GROWN ARE USUALLY BEST
Organically grown food has the following important advantages:
1. It usually contains much less residue of toxic pesticides and insecticides. It may still contain some pesticide residue because some blows from one farm to the next, and some remains in the soil for years if the farmer raised food conventionally in the past.
2. It is more nutritious than regular produce. A study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition tested organic and commercial produce purchased randomly in Chicago stores. Compared to the commercially-grown produce, the organic vegetables had an average of twice the levels of minerals. Other studies have shown the same thing.
3. Buying organic food sends a message to farmers that you prefer we not poison the earth with toxic sprays.
4. Organic vegetables often taste much better, especially carrots, onions and a few other vegetables. Eating organic may turn a non-vegetable eater into a vegetable lover simply because organically grown tastes better.
5. Organically grown food often stays fresh longer.
The variety of organic vegetables available in markets is growing fast. Indeed, this is the fastest growing sector of the agricultural marketplace. They cost a little more, but prices are coming down and they are worth having if you can find them and afford them.
FRESH, FROZEN OR CANNED?
The best way to enjoy vegetables is to eat them fresh. They will have the most nutrition in this form and will often taste best.
Canned vegetables are next best. They are much better than no vegetables at all. However, they are less desirable than most fresh vegetables.
Pressure-cooking. This is the best method of cooking vegetables, and even meats. It is very fast, cleanup is very easy, they taste the best, and most important, the vegetables are more yang when cooked this way. For details, read Pressure-Cooking on this website.
Other methods. The other recommended method is steaming. Occasional baking, roasting or other methods are okay, but cooking with water and lower temperature cooking are best. If you boil vegetables, you must drink the water the vegetbles are cooked in because it will contain a lot of minerals.
More cooking notes: Steaming vegetables. The best way is to place a small amount of water in a saucepan. Add the vegetables. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn down the flame and let them steam in the water for about 30-40 minutes.
Drink the cooking water in this case, as it will contain many minerals.
Stir-frying vegetables. This is okay but it is high temperature and you have to cook them enough. We don’t want vegetables crunchy.
Seasoning vegetables. It is best to cook vegetables without added salt or spices. When the vegetables are cooked, then add some natural sea salt. On occasion, if you wish, add a very small amount of mild herbs such as a little oregano, rosemary, thyme, curry powder, or any of a dozen other mild herbs and spices.
If you begin with good quality vegetables, they will have wonderful flavors.
Leftovers. While fresh is best, to save time you may cook enough for two days. It is best not to keep leftovers more than a day, as they will deteriorate somewhat.
Fermenting vegetables. I do not recommend eating these, except for some sauerkraut. Problems with fermented vegetables are:
1. They are very yin because they are a) raw, and b) combined with bacteria or yeasts, both of which are very yin.
2. Most fermented foods are toxic with aldehydes. This is potentially a serious problem if you eat them regularly. A very bad one is kombucha tea, but the problem extends to kim chi and most others. For more, read Aldehydes and Fermented Foods on this website.
I find that everyone needs to eat 2-3 cups of cooked vegetables, at least three times daily or about 9-10 cups of cooked vegetables daily. Measure the amount when cooked, not raw.
Another way to say this is to eat about 70% of your diet as cooked vegetables. This may seem like a lot, but it is not that difficult with a little practice. Eat some with every meal.
Food combining. It is best to eat 10 or more types of vegetables at each meal. Try to mix colors and flavors for variety.
Cooked vegetables should be the basis for, or staple food for every meal. In addition, you may have one other type of food – either one protein or one starch. These simple food combinations greatly assist digestion and utilization of your food.
USE TOPPINGS IF YOU DO NOT LIKE SIMPLE COOKED VEGETABLES
To help you eat your vegetables, and especially to help children to eat them, make it fun. Have a dozen or more toppings ready to put on your vegetables. Here are some suggestions for toppings:
Fresh cream, whipped cream or butter
Some plain yogurt
Grated cheese, preferably raw, full-fat cheese
A little mustard
Other herbs of many kinds
Almond butter mixed with a little water
Thai – peanut butter sauce
Chinese – real soy sauce
A few chopped nuts or seeds
Salad dressings you make yourself or you buy
To thicken sauces, arrowroot powder is best
CHILDREN AND VEGETABLES
Many parents have trouble getting their children to eat vegetables. Here are a few ideas:
1. Rather than lecture your children, instead set a great example. Eat plenty of vegetables yourself. Ideally, fill two-thirds of your plate filled with vegetables whenever you eat. And make sure you enjoy your vegetables. Children will often imitate you.
2. Create tasty sauces your children enjoy to put over the vegetables. See the suggestions above for ideas.
3. Disguise vegetables in other dishes, if needed. For ideas, read the article entitled Fourteen Ways To Disguise Vegetables.
4. Puree vegetables if a child does not like the texture of vegetables. To make a puree, first cook vegetables. Then use a hand blender to puree them. This is better than a regular blender because the latter requires adding a lot of water to the vegetables, which is not desirable.
5. Make it fun. Grow a garden. For young children, carve little faces on vegetables, slice them creatively, arrange them creatively on a plate, dip them in cream and in other ways make them attractive to children.
6. Start introducing vegetables when children are very young. This can help children to feel they are just normal food.
7. Beware of allowing your children to mix and play with children who have learned to hate vegetables. This is all too common.
8. For quick, easy meals and snacks for children and adults, read Fast Food For Nutritional Balancing.
Dried vegetable capsules. We formerly recommended these. However, they are not testing as well at this time.
This applies to green superfood vegetable powders. They are often rancid, or they go rancid quickly, even in the refrigerator.
Dried vegetable capsules are never a substitute for eating loads of cooked vegetables!
What about blenders for carrot juice? Blenders require that you add some water to the juice, which is not good. Also, they leave the pulp intact, which is not best. Use a juicer, not a blender.
You can also buy fresh carrot juice at the health food store, or at some supermarkets. For much more on this topic, read Carrot Juice on this website.
VEGETABLE SNACKS – DRIED, FREEZE-DRIED AND CHIPS
In recent years, health food stores have begun selling plastic containers of dried vegetables. These are fair but not that good.
Another recent innovation are vegetable chips. These are also fair if they do not contain sugar and chemical additives.
None of these, however, is a substitute for eating loads of cooked vegetables.
Harmful vegetables. Vegetables can occasionally aggravate health conditions. For example, I suggest avoiding completely the nightshade vegetables – white and red potatoes, tomatoes, all peppers, including hot peppers, red and green peppers, and eggplant.
Eating them can aggravate joint pain in some people, and they all contain a poison called solanin. Your digestion will improve if it is weak, as it is in most people, by eliminating these vegetables.
HERBS VERSUS VEGETABLES
Some people tell me they won’t eat many vegetables, but they will sprinkle herbs on their food. This is not good enough!
Vegetables differ from herbs and spices in that vegetables are grown as foods. They can be eaten in large quantities on a daily basis. This is necessary today if you want optimum health because everyone is mineral-starved and vegetables are the main source of minerals.
Herbs and spices are for garnishes, flavoring and some can be used as drug medicines. Herbs, by definition, contain slightly toxic substances that make them unsuitable for everyday eating, except in very small quantities. Do not listen to the lies of some health authorities that there are simply “nourishing herbs” that you can eat all you want. This is not true.
1. J. Applied Nutrition, 1993:45(1);35-39.