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Celery is not only a crunchy, low-calorie vegetable, it can contribute significantly to health support because in addition to well-known antioxidants, like vitamin C and flavonoids, scientists have now identified at least a dozen other types of antioxidants in it.
In recent years scientists have revealed the potential benefits of celery for cancer prevention through its ability to reduce chronic oxidative stress and excessive inflammation.
Researchers have demonstrated that celery phthalides can act as smooth muscle relaxants, most likely through their impact on the flow of calcium and potassium inside cells and related nervous system activity involved in muscle relaxation.
Moreover, relaxation of smooth muscles surrounding our blood vessels allows them to expand, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. It is a very good source of folate, potassium, dietary fibre, manganese and pantothenic acid. It is also a good source of vitamin B2, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids).
Onions can vary in size, shape, colour and flavour. The most common types are red, yellow and white onions. Flavours can vary from sweet and juicy, with a mild flavour, to sharp, spicy and pungent, often depending on the season in which they are grown and consumed. The possible health benefits of consuming onions include lowering the risk of several types of cancer, improving mood and maintaining the health of skin and hair.
Onions are a nutrient-dense food, which means that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One cup of chopped onion contains 10% or more of the daily requirements of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. Onions also contain small amounts of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and the antioxidants quercetin and sulfur.
Onions are a source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C that helps to combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer, such as colon, prostate, oesophageal and stomach cancers.
The folate in onions may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite.
Adequate intake of vitamin C is needed to build and maintain collagen, which provides structure to the skin and hair.
Peppers come in a beautiful array of colours and shapes, and they add both flavour and crunch to many low-calorie dishes.
All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C and K, but red peppers are simply bursting with them. Antioxidant vitamins A and C help to prevent cell damage, cancer and diseases related to aging. They also support immune function and reduce inflammation, like that found in arthritis and asthma. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting, strengthens bones and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
Red peppers are a good source of the carotenoid called lycopene, which is earning a reputation for helping to prevent prostate cancer and cancer of the bladder, cervix and pancreas. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another carotenoid in red peppers, holds promise for helping to prevent lung cancer related to smoking and secondhand smoke.
Besides being rich in phytochemicals, peppers provide a good amount of fibre.
The fire from hot peppers comes from capsaicin, which acts on the pain receptors, rather than the taste buds, in our mouths. Capsaicin predominates in the white membranes of peppers, imparting its ‘heat’ to the seeds as well. The capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol and triglycerides, boost immunity and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. It used to be thought that hot peppers aggravated ulcers, but it has been discovered that they may actually help to kill the bacteria in the stomach that can lead to ulcers.
Both hot and sweet peppers contain substances that have been shown to increase the body's heat production and oxygen consumption for about 20 minutes after eating. This is great news as it means your body is burning extra calories, which helps weight loss.