Healthy Tips from Aristotle

Over half of the adult population in the United States makes the decision to start each day with a vitamin supplement, and the numbers are growing. Sounds like a step in the right direction, wouldn’t you say? At the very least, the adults in our nation seem to be taking a genuine interest in leading a healthy life.

While I am not here to change your mind about those supplements (I am certainly not a doctor! Though most adults are taking supplements by personal choice rather than from doctor recommendation), I would like to encourage you to think about your vitamin intake from a new point of view.

 Rather going into great detail about the number of toxins available to American consumers through their vitamin supplements – nearly ALL of the Vitamin C supplements sold today are made with genetically modified corn products – I will instead share with you the wisdom of Aristotle.

The same philosopher from the 4th Century B.C. who taught us “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference” (one of the wisest sentences ever uttered, in my opinion) also planted a garden and wrote about it, sharing his knowledge of cruciferous vegetables and their health benefits.

The name “cruciferous” comes from a Latin word for “cross-bearing,” which may indicate a holy level of nutrition to some, though it is really based on the shape of the leaves of the vegetables, which resemble a cross. Aristotle understood that these vegetables are significant enough to be eaten on a daily basis in order to preserve the quality of life we all seek. Modern (and significantly less eloquent) writers have deemed the cruciferous vegetable family to be the “Super Veggies,” and take the studies of Aristotle even further, breaking down for us exactly what the health benefits are.

Tossing out all the supplements, additives, preservatives, powders, and otherwise complicating forms of nutrition allows us to simplify our lives while at the same time eating the food that will give us the greatest health benefits possible.

Cruciferous vegetables include (but are not limited to) cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, cabbage, collards greens, watercress, radish, broccoli sprouts, arugula, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnip, broccoflower, and daikon. They also include antioxidants, detoxification enzymes, oxidative stress reducers, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, cardiovascular disease reducing components, Omega 3’s, and fiber.

Cruciferous vegetables are inexpensive (costing as little as 20 cents per serving), can be prepared in mouth-watering ways (try sautéing Brussels sprouts with shallots and pecans) or simply added to an everyday bowl of vegetable soup, can increase the quality of life for both you and your children (remember that Aristotle’s wisdom also taught us to instill these habits within our nation’s youth), and in the end, has the potential to save our families and our nation an unimaginable amount of money in health care costs.

People have been trying to tell us about these life-altering vegetables since Alexander the Great believed it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire, yet we still find ourselves contemplating health and nutrition alternatives. I challenge you to return to the simplicity of preparing vegetables for your family every day…as Aristotle also taught us, “We are what we repeatedly do…Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

this article was also published in Families First Monthly, June/July 2013.

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