Grown beneath the earth, root vegetables seem to have seeped in all of mother nature’s natural healing benefits. Whether you’re eating carrots in a salad, minced onion in a stir-fry, baked yam as a sweet side, or any of the other following vegetables, your body’s sure to thank you. Here’s a breakdown of some of the healthiest foods pulled from under the dirt.
Ginger: This root vegetable is the underground stem of the plant Zingiber officinale and has been used as a digestive aid by the Chinese for more than 2,000 years. With such broad benefits such as helping treat arthritis, nausea, and heart conditions to relieving colds and headaches, ginger is nature’s practically perfect panacea.
Onion: Peel off as little of the outer layers as possible, because the onion’s flavonoids, which provide antibacterial benefits, are more concentrated in those areas. Onions have also been shown to increase bone density, especially for older women, have anti-inflammatory properties, and lower esophageal- and mouth-cancer risks.
Garlic: “The stinking rose” is known for its numerous health benefits; whole books are dedicated to its cardiovascular, antiviral, cancer-preventative, and metabolism-boosting qualities. Garlic specifically has a set of sulfur-containing compounds that help protect against oxidative stress, which often leads to less than pleasant inflammation.
Fennel: Widely used in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, and antacids, but also a lovely addition to salads, fennel’s essential oils offer huge nutritional benefits. If you’re low on red blood cells, fennel has been used as a natural treatment for anemia, especially because it is heavy in iron. Indigestion, constipation, and respiratory disorders, are among other ailments fennel can help cure.
Yam: With more than 200 varieties, yams vary from yellow to purple. They are all, however, great sources of vitamin B6 and potassium. Many people tout that wild yam extract, which contains diosgenins (chemicals that act similarl to progesterone), helps provide an alternative to hormone replacement for menopausal women. While studies have yet to confirm this, Chinese herbal medicine has been using yams to improve organ function for centuries.
Carrot: It’s common knowledge that carrots make your eyesight better. What makes the orange-colored root great for vision health is its beta-carotene content, which is converted to vitamin A, travels to the retina, and protects against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. Perfect for dipping in your favorite hummus or dressing, studies have also found that carrots promote lung health.
Radish: The ancient Greeks held such high opinion of radishes in the medical field that Greek physician Androcydes used to instruct his patients to eat daily servings of radish to prevent intoxication. Radishes are high in vitamin C and have are helpful in lowering cholesterol, curing urinary tract disorders, and increasing the supply of fresh oxygen in the bloodstream.
Beet: These red and golden vegetables are packed with unique phytonutrients called betalains, which provide support for the body’s antioxidants and detoxifcation process. Make sure to add beets to your daily diet to help clean out your system. In addition, lab studies of human tumor cells show that beets’ betanin decreases the cells’ growth.