Your mom had your best interests in mind when she told you to gobble up all that spinach for strong bones and carrots for good eyesight. My mom even told me I should eat my carrots so the Easter bunny would still come to my house.
Many of Mom’s well-intended advice stuck with us all these years, but not all of it was founded in fact. Here’s what still holds true – and what might have just been mom’s ploy to get you to behave and eat what she cooked for dinner.
Spinach makes you grow up big and strong
Okay, it wasn’t just Mom who drilled this one into our heads. Little boys and girls everywhere were inspired to eat these dark leafy greens after seeing how it magically boosted Popeye’s biceps.
Now, we all know spinach won’t magically inflate our muscles, but it does go a long way in protecting us from inflammatory problems, cardiovascular disease, bone conditions and cancer. Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium, which makes it great for lowering your risk of health problems related to oxidative stress and inflammation (including cancer, since inflammation can increase your risk). Plus, one cup of raw spinach has almost 200 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, while a cup of boiled spinach has more than 1000 percent. Vitamin K helps prevent the cells that break down bones and boosts bone strength. It’s no wonder Popeye was so strong!
Carrots will improve your vision
Eating my carrots might not have had anything to do with the Easter bunny, but Mom was partially right about their vision-boosting capabilities. Carrots contain tons of vitamin A, and a deficiency of this vitamin has been shown to cause blindness. So, carrots won’t necessarily enhance your vision, but they can keep your eyes functioning well.
At the same time, it is difficult for most Americans to have a vitamin A deficiency, since this vitamin is so prevalent in many different foods. However, munching on carrots is still a good idea, since they offer tons of antioxidants (most notably their namesake, beta-carotene). The high levels of antioxidants in carrots may give you some cardiovascular benefits and protect against cancer – particularly colon cancer.
You can have dessert if you finish your vegetables
Again, Mom knew what she was talking about with this one. It’s always a good idea to fill up on healthier foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains before you indulge in a fatty or sugary treat. This ensures your body gets all the nutrients it needs and that your daily calorie intake is used on foods that count. Plus, if you’re too full from your healthy meal, you might just skip dessert, saving yourself the sugar and calories.
Quit the clean plate club
You may have been rewarded for eating everything on your plate when you were a kid, but being too focused on clearing your plate now that you’re grown up is a surefire way to overeat, which can cause you to gain weight.
Mom and Dad might have boasted membership in the “clean plate club,” but that was likely just to get you to focus on finishing your dinner and not whine about being hungry later. Now that you’re in control of your own meals (and your metabolism is much slower) it is better to eat slowly and mindfully. This way, you can stop when you are full, instead of trying to reach some unattainable (and unhealthy) imaginary finish line.