Health Tips – Veggie Power

Through out time we’ve all been told to “eat our veggies” at some point. The power of food is quite amazing and vegetables are at the top of the chomping order! However, they often don’t take their rightful place as the ‘king of the plate’ at every meal. Most people lack variety, quality as well as plain and simple quantity of vegetables in their diet. If you want to regain health, lose fat and perform optimally first action on the list should be to get more fibrous vegetables.

What Veggies Do For Us

The colours of vegetables are derived from a variety of chemicals called antioxidants. Antioxidants are almost exclusively found in plants. Animal-based foods do contain trace amounts due to the fact that animals eat plants and therefore store these chemicals, the same way we do, in their own tissue.

Plants produce antioxidants to fight compounds that destroy healthy cells (free radicals) and protect healthy cells. Here’s the thing… Humans do not naturally build shields to protect ourselves against free radicals.

Fortunately, the antioxidants in plants work in our bodies the same way they work in plants. Therefore, we need to eat plants to borrow their antioxidant shields for our cells… our health. In essence vegetables provide us with a “life-force” by giving us both energy for metabolic processes and muscle contractions as well as substances to protect us from illness and premature aging. This is why vegetables should be the cornerstone of a healthy existence.

Vegetarians Beware

Vegetarian diets can provide adequate nutrition, as long as appropriate substitutions are made. If you choose to eliminate only meat from your diet, you must find suitable plant substitutes for protein, zinc and iron. If you eliminate dairy products as well, you need to consider calcium and vitamin D. When you eliminate all foods of animal origin, vitamin B12 also needs special attention. If you live a low stress life, in an unpolluted environment, perform low to moderate physical activity, get plenty of sleep and eat ‘clean’ food, vegetarianism is an extremely viable option. Questions about the adequacy of a vegetarian diet are raised when individuals are exposed to stress, pollution, intensive exercise, reduced sleep and processed foods.

World leading performance nutritionist Charles Poliquin has commented that even with a smart vegetarian diet some nutrients, such as omega-3 fats (widely regarded as essential for health), can’t be gotten in large enough quantities from solely plant based food sources.

I know that vegetarianism and what people choose to eat can be an emotion-filled topic. There are many reasons why people become vegetarians, be it environmental, ethical, health, religious or cultural. Whatever the reason, becoming vegetarian requires careful planning to ensure your body gets all the nutrients required to grow, be healthy and perform physically. Becoming vegetarian does not mean simply cutting out meat. Therefore, if you do only choose to eat vegetables then you need to be a smart vegetarian.

4 great veggies that are available in Vietnam and, in my opinion, should be apart of everyone’s diet are:

Bok Choy – a great source of Vitamin C & A as well as bone healthy vitamin K. Bok Choy is a must have readily available vegetable in Vietnam containing a very rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and many vital phyto-nutrients. It also contains moderate levels of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Broccoli – is one of the true vegetable powerhouses. Great for helping with blood pressure, sun damage, bone health, immune system function, cancer prevention, just to name a few.

Kale – if Kale were a superhero it would be the Incredible Hulk! This green bad boy could almost protect you against bullets… well if not bullets then a very wide range of diseases. The nutrients in Kale play a vital role in both phases I and II of the body’s detoxification process. Making it a crucial food in Vietnams growing pollution levels. One cup of ‘Kale Hulk’ provides approx. 10% of the RDA of Omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation… one of the major causes of disease.

Avocado – some label avocados as the world’s healthiest food. How can I top that statement? Dr Merola thinks so highly of this superfood he recommends using it as a fat replacement when cooking. In addition, adding it to soups, smoothies, dips, etc while also recommending it as a baby’s first food. Technically a fruit… I just couldn’t leave it off this list because of its amazing benefits and availability here in Vietnam


Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (, online or at your home. Contact him though his website or