Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
December is a month of celebration, be it Christmas, Kwanza or Hanukkah, Easter H. Tucker, interim family and consumer sciences program leader for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said. It also happens to be National Root Vegetable Month, providing a good opportunity to incorporate these tasty, nutritious vegetables in both holiday and regular family meals.
“There are many root vegetables,” she said. “Some of them include carrots, parsnips, onions, radishes and rutabagas.”
Apart from the fact they are naturally lower in fat and calories, vegetables offer many other health benefits. People who eat vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ChooseMyPlate website, vegetables provide nutrients vital for the health and maintenance of the human body, including:
- Potassium. Diets rich in potassium may help maintain healthy blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium.
- Dietary fiber. These nutrients help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is also important for proper bowel function and can help reduce constipation. Fiber-rich root vegetables include sweet potatoes, beets and carrots.
- Folic acid. This vitamin helps the body form red blood cells. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should take folic acid, as it can reduce the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly during fetal development.
- Vitamin A, which is important for eye and skin health and helps protect against infections.
- Vitamin C, which helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. This vitamin also plays a role in iron absorption.
Tucker said root vegetables make for great holiday side dishes. She recommends the USDA MyPlate recipe for roasted root vegetables.
“A variety of root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets and turnips make this colorful dish festive and nutritious,” she said.
Roasted Root Vegetables
-4 medium-sized root vegetables (choose a variety from potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, beets or sweet potatoes)
-2 carrots (chopped)
-1 onion (medium, chopped)
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut vegetables into large chunks.
- Place in a medium bowl and pour oil over top. Add seasonings or Parmesan and mix well.
- Spread an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Check a few vegetables to see if they are tender.
Source: USDA MyPlate Kitchen
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.