Following an organic, whole foods-based diet that contains a variety of fresh vegetables is essential for maintaining optimal health. Vegetables have significant phytochemical (plant nutrient and antioxidant) profiles and are many are rich in fiber, which contribute to gastrointestinal health as well as the detoxification of toxins and heavy metals. While it is important to include these nutrient-rich staples in your diet, some vegetables may actually feed your body with another element that you might not be aware of – sugar.
While most vegetables are generally low in sugar and carbohydrates, some vegetables contain more sugar than others. Vegetables that contain more water are usually lower in sugar than those without and include spinach, lettuce, asparagus, cucumber, radish, cabbage, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Most green leafy vegetables also contain high amounts of fiber, which helps distribute sugar slowly through the body’s systems.
Other vegetables that are lower in water content and therefore higher in sugar include root vegetables such carrots, as well as peas, corn, squash, beets, and white potatoes. These types of vegetables are not only high in sugar, but also have a high glycemic index, making it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Sweet potatoes are much lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes since they are lower in starch, so they are often considered a healthier alternative to regular potatoes. Even for people who do not have diabetes, eating large amounts of high-glycemic foods can actually increase the risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes.
While it is important to be aware of the sugar content in vegetables, it does not mean that you should avoid them altogether. Health experts vary in their recommendations for the number of servings of vegetables you should consume each day, but it typically falls between three and five. The more vegetables you eat, while cutting out other processed sugary snacks, the better off your health will be.