7 Veggies for Better Health
Written by: Sivan Zilber, clinical pet nutritionist
Every day I explain to my daughters the importance of eating vegetables. That if they eat their multi colored veggies, they will grow to be strong and healthy. I also make sure to follow this advice when it comes to our two dogs.
In a raw diet, muscle meat is the foundation which provides your dog with the needed protein to build strong tissues. On top of that we have organs and bones. Adding vegetables is only a recommendation, yet most professional agree that because of their beneficial attributes these should account for approx. 25% of the diet.
The main reasons for feeding veggies are:
- Green vegetables contain Chlorphyll, a pigment which detoxify the liver and digestive system.
- All plant materiel provides Fiber which is beneficial for the health of the digestive system.
- Orange and Yellow vegetables contain important anti-oxidants such as Carotenoids, Lycopene and Lutein. These protect again cell aging, preventing and slowing cancer progression and protect the eyes, skin and heart.
- They provide Flavonoids which regulate cell signaling and are considered anti-inflammatory and with anti cancer properties.
You probably think, "OK, this is great, but are there veggies which are more beneficial than others?" The simple answer is yes. Of course variety is great and provides a more balanced and complete diet, but there are some veggies which I recommend putting an emphasis on and feed them to your pet at least once or twice a week.
These mini cabbages contain an abundance of vitamin C and K, and are a good source for potassium. They contain an organic compound called glucosinolate sinigrin, which is presumed to have cancer-fighting properties. Plus, they contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid that has been shown to lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity which assists against diabetes.
Rich in carotenoids like beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A; they foster healthy skin and mucus membranes, fortify the immune system and protects eye health while helping to ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging. Sweet potatoes are also high in vitamins B6, C and D which is crucial for healthy immune system and is important to maintain energy levels and temperament. They are a great source for Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.
Spinach is loaded with vitamin C, provides potassium and magnesium and it's an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that helps maintain healthy DNA and may keep away cancer-promoting genes. It contains an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Also, spinach contains chlorophyll, which has been shown to have effective cancer fighting properties.
This is a nutrient all-star, packed with vitamins A, K, B6, C, minerals as Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Iron and Magnesium, plus powerful anti-oxidants such as Quercetin and Kaempferol which help counteract oxidative damage by free radicals in the body. These have powerful cardio protective, blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant and anti-cancer effects. Kale also contains the phytochemical Lutein.
These provide a good source for 12 essential nutrients and powerful phytochemicals. They are especially rich in fiber and considered a plant base protein source. Peas have high levels of anti-oxidants including Flavinoids, Carotenoids, Phenolic acids and Polyphenols which have anti aging properties and are immune system boosters.
Red bell peppers
Bright bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A, E and C and a good source of folate, lycopene and other carotenoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits such as it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.
Broccoli contains sulforaphane which researchers found that might assist in inhibiting the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. It also contains important vitamins like K, B6 and C.
Now that you are familiar with some of the more nutritious vegetable, let's talk about how to prepare them.
In the wild, canines eat their plant material pre-digested, so when you are preparing your dog's veggies, I recommend steaming or blanching them and blending them using a food processor or hand blender. This breaks down the cellulose which could be hard for the dog's digestive system to do on its own.
Remember this important tip – if you see any part of the vegetable in the dogs poop, it means it didn’t undergo any digestive process in the middle. This means cook or blend better.
If your dog is a picky eater and veggies are too "healthy" for him, try blending them with an egg, sardines, intestinal organs, or any ingredient that they are especially fond of.
Dogs don’t just need meat, bones and fat. Veggies are important for their complete and balanced nutrition.
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