Vegetables are one of the important and highly beneficial foods used since ancient times for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease as they contain valuable food nutrients which help build and repair the body. In Ayurveda the vegetables hold a very high place due to the curative properties discovered by the Rishis in the ancient times.
Vegetables are important in maintaining the alkaline balance and at the same time they are valued for their high vitamin and mineral contents. They are rich in vitamins and low in calories, being light and moist they are easy to digest when cooked properly and can be combined with almost all other foods.
In Ayurveda, vegetables are classified as light or heavy, cool or warm and dry or oily. In most cases the warming vegetables tend to pacify vata and kapha and the cooling vegetables pacify pitta. Apart from this the properties can be altered according to ones dosha by using different spices and the mode of cooking.
Care should be taken while cooking the vegetables as over cooking and careless storage can destroy these valuable nutrients. They are consumed in the forms of the leaves, stems, roots, fruits, seeds and flowers. Each group contributes to form a complete nutritional diet required by a human being providing the vital proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals.
It is very essential to consume the vegetables fresh in order to get the maximum benefits of their qualities. Most leafy vegetables are best consumed raw in the form of the salads except for vata individuals who should add dressing and cooked ingredients. Care should be taken while cooking the vegetables in order to preserve all its nutrients.
Tips for proper preparation of vegetables:
All the vegetables should be washed thoroughly and the cooking time to be adjusted according to the size of the cut and the type of the vegetable. The vegetables should be boiled with little salt in order to prevent the loss of vitamin C and B complex.
Preparation is more effective if the vegetables are covered while cooking using just the sufficient amount of water. In the case of the leafy vegetables, one can avoid adding the water because of their high moisture content. All the legumes should be soaked overnight to make it more digestible.
It is advisable to scrape instead of peeling vegetables in order to avoid the loss of the large amount of the minerals presented directly under the skin. One should avoid cooking in the aluminum utensils as it being a soft metal it is acted upon by both food acids and alkalis. The scientific explanation is that the aluminum particles are very astringent and injure the sensitive lining of the stomach leading to gastric irritation, digestive and intestinal ailments.