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Know the Nutritional Value of Plant Foods

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A great number of people, especially children in the Philippines, and other less developed countries get sick or suffer from diseases or die because of under nutrition.

            This is a condition that arises when a person fails to take adequately one or more essential nutrients that the body needs.

 

            To overcome this situation, proper selection or choice of food most especially inexpensive and available in the backyard or in the locality must be discussed and given emphasis.

 

            The body needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

 

            Proteins are used by the body as building materials for growth and repair. They are needed by growing children, pregnant, and lactating mothers, and those who are sick or are ­­convalescing.

 

            Lack of protein causes susceptibility to disease and proneness to infections, as well as retardation in both mind and body. Animal proteins are of higher quality but the protein of vegetable origin should not be disregarded, though of lesser quality.

 

            Inexpensive, yet nutritious sources of protein are dilis, ayungin, sapsap, galunggong, tawilis, hibe, and alamang. Also rich in proteins are milk, egg, meat and other seafoods.

 

            Plant food rich in protein are sitaw, dayap, abitsuelas, mungo and mani.

 

            Carbohydrates are burned to provide the body with heat and energy. They are the primary sources of calories.

 

            Plants rich in carbohydrates are palay, mais, kamote, kamoteng kahoy, ube, gabi patatas, araro, tubo and saging.

 

            Fats are primary sources of calories and provide the body with the greatest amount of heat and energy. Fats are the vehicles by which fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E) are introduced into the body.

 

            Plants rich in fats are mani, linga, kasuy, pili, mais (oil) and niyog (oil).

 

            Vitamins are organic compounds which are required in minute amounts for growth, maintenance of life and reproduction, occurring in natural foods, as in fruits and vegetables.

            Vitamin A is very important in the maintenance of normal vision. It also helps maintain the integrity of the epithelial covering of the body (the skin) which protects against microbial invasion.

 

            A great number of Filipino children become blind because of deficiency of Vitamin A.

 

            Vitamin A is found only in animal products.  However, Pro Vitamin A which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, is available in many plant products which absorption and utilization are enhanced when fats and oils are added to the diet.

 

            The more green or yellow the vegetables and fruits are, the greater the amount of Vitamin A they provide when taken into the body.

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            Plants rich in Vitamin A are malunggay leaves, katuray leaves, kamoteng kahoy leaves, papaya leaves, kasuy leaves, alagaw leaves gabi leaves, siling labuyo tops, sili tops, sayote tops, upo tops, ampalaya tops, kamote tops uray, gulasiman, dampalit, saluyot, kulitis, karot, kalabasa, papaya and tiesa.

 

Vitamin B prevents beri-beri in children and pregnant women if adequate amounts of food rich in Vitamin B are taken. Rice bran extract (darak) is rich in Vitamin B that can be made into rice cakes and other delicacies. Plants rich in Vitamin B are pili, mani, kadyos,and munggo.

 

            Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is required in the body’s metabolism. It is important in the formation and maintenance or intercellular materials connecting tissue,  bone, teeth and the cement substance of capillaries. Vitamin C strengthens body resistance against infection.

 

Sufficient amounts of Vitamin C have to be taken since the body is unable to store this vitamin unlike those of other vitamins. Fresh raw fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C.

 

Plants rich in Vitamin C are malunggay leaves and fruits, katuray leaves gabi leaves, papaya leaves;  aurora  leaves  and stems,  mangga tops kasuy tops; ampalaya tops, alugbati tops saluyot, kulitis, cauliflower, singuelas, datiles,  kamatsili, kasuy, papaya, rambutan and mangga.

 

Mineral (iron) is needed by the body for the production of hemoglobin of the red cells. Iron deficiency makes a person anemic, weak and unable to perform work efficiently.

 

Iron is needed more by growing children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and during menstrual period.

 

This mineral (iron) from plant sources are absorb better when taken together with Vitamin C.

 

Plants rich in iron are aurora leaves and stems, bornay leaves and stems, kintsay tsina, sitaw, saluyot, kulitis, talinum, saging (flower) kamyas, kakaw, gamet, uray, pinya and darak. Estrella Z. Gallardo, PSciJourn MegaManila

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