Cardioprotective Roast (vegan, gluten free)

cardioprotective roast

A cardioprotective roast of delicious and crunchy vegetables seems the perfect dish on one of these cold and winter days. Here we present our version, but you can easily add more vegetables to your taste.


  • 6 Potatoes
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 1 Aubergine
  • 1 Red onion
  • 4 Beetroots
  • 1 Apple
  • Thyme
  • 1 Lemon
  • Olive oil

How to prepare the cardioprotective roast

Cut all the vegetables in thin slices and arrange them on a circular baking tray as shown in the photo.

Pour one tablespoon of olive oil, the thyme, and the juice of one lemon.

Bake at 200°C for 60´ covered with aluminium foil or a lid, then remove the lid and roast for another 10´, until the vegetables become golden and crispy.

Serve immediately and.. enjoy!

The Ingredients Benefits

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the cheapest foods with also the highest amount of nutrients in it [1]. The peel of sweet potato contains anthocyanins, antioxidants that give sweet potatoes their typical orange or purple colour [2]. The amount of antioxidant in the peel is comparable to that of blueberries, and it is ten times higher than in the flesh [2].

The main job of antioxidants is to neutralize harmful substances, namely free radicals, in our body [3]. These are toxic molecules that form during metabolic processes (e.g., the extraction of energy from food) and from exposure to cigarette smoking, X-rays, industrial chemicals, and air pollutants [3].

Most (80%) of the proteins in sweet potatoes belong to a class of proteins with potential anti-cancer effects [4]. Previous studies have shown that sweet potato proteins survive digestion (i.e., they are able to reach the intestine without having their shape and function altered) and may be absorbed into the bloodstream intact [5]. They also slow down the growth of colon cancer cells and inhibit the proliferation of these to other parts of the body, in this way reducing the risk of metastases [4].


Betalains, the red pigments of beetroots, are powerful antioxidants, able to inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes in our body [6].

Betalains pigments also support the activity of Phase 2 enzymes. These neutralize toxic substances and make them water-soluble so that they can be excreted in the urine [7].

Studies conducted on tumour cells have shown that betalains can slow down the growth of tumours in vitro. The types of cells tested include colon, prostate, nerve, lung, breast, stomach and testicular tissue cells [6]. Although such studies are conducted on cells in a Petri dish (in comparison to clinical studies on patients), the results suggest that beetroots might have a positive impact on cancer treatment [6].


Studies have shown that aubergines have protective effects for the heart [8] and brain [9], and inhibit the growth of tumour cells both in vivo and in vitro [10]. contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. These are antioxidants that have cardioprotective effects: they can increase the function of the left ventricle (a large chamber in the heart that pumps blood into the body), and prevent heart cells death after a heart attack [8].

Nasunin is an anthocyanin that gives aubergines their typical purple colour on their skin. Nasunin has a potent antioxidant activity on lipids, fat molecules present in the membranes of our cells, especially of brain cells [9]. Previous studies on animals have shown that nasunin can protect the brain from free radical damage [9].

Glycoalkaloids are nitrogen-containing molecules that are found in plants such as potatoes, aubergines, and tomatoes [10]. These compounds have shown to inhibit tumour growth in vivo and in vitro in previous studies, showing that aubergines can have a beneficial effect in the cure of cancer [10].

Red onions

Thanks to their anti-clotting effects, red onions have shown to have a protective mechanism against cardiovascular diseases [11]. Because of its blood thinning effects, onion intake might have to be stopped one week before surgery.

When tested in people, boiled onions dropped platelet activation, therefore inhibiting the formation of blood clots [11].

Onions, together with garlic, have shown to increase the accessibility of iron and zinc from food grains [12]. These plant foods contain phytic acid, a nutrient with anticancer activity which can also increase mineral absorption [12].

cardioprotective roast

The addition of a couple of cloves of garlic or few thins slices of onions to rice, for example, has shown to increase up to 50% more the absorption of iron and zinc [12]. This process is thought to work also for other plant foods, such as spinach and lentils, which are high in iron and also contain phytic acid.

Flavones and flavonols are phytonutrients present in red onions [13]. These phytochemicals are able to block or reduce the effects of dioxins, a toxic by-product of waste incineration and other industrial processes [14]. About a tablespoon of red onion, for example, is capable of cutting dioxin toxicity in half [13].

Because the half-life of these phytonutrients is only about 25 hours, it is necessary to eat onions, together with other vegetables and fruits, on a daily basis [13]. In addition to the “cardioprotective roast”, we recommend trying other recipes featured in our magazine.

Holidays Special: you enjoyed this recipe, and would love to introduce more plant-based dishes onto your feasting table these days, why not checking our VEGAN FESTIVE COOKBOOK? It’s a free donation ebook with plenty of festive recipes that will bring health & peace to your plate (and also a great way to support all of our FREE articles throughout this past year!).

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1: Bovell-Benjamin, A. 2007. Sweet potato: a review of its past, present, and future role in human nutrition. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 52: 1-59.

2: Padda, M. S. Picha, D. H. 2008. Phenolic composition and antioxidant capacity of different heat-processed forms of sweetpotato cv. ´Beauregard´. International Journal of Food Science and Technology. 43: 1404-1409.

3: Lobo, V. et al. 2010. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 4(8): 118-126.

4: Peng-Gao, L. et al. 2013. Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 19(21): 3300-3308.

5: Kobayashi, H. et al. 2004. Therapeutic Efficacy of Once-Daily Oral Administration of a Kunitz-Type Protease Inhibitor, Bikunin, in a Mouse Model and in Human Cancer. Cancer. 100: 69-77.

6: Reddy, M. K. Alexander-Lindo, R. L. Nair, M. G. 2005. Relative inhibition of lipid peroxidation , cyclooxygenase enzymes, and human tumor cell proliferation by natural food colors. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 53(23): 9268-9273.

7: Lee, C. H. et al. 2005. Betalains, phase II enzyme-inducing compontents from red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L. extracts). Nutrition and Cancer. 53(1): 91-103.

8: Das, S. et al. 2011. Cardioprotective properties of raw and cooked eggplant (Solanum melongena L.). Food and Function. 2(7): 395-399.

9: Noda, Y. et al. 2000. Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels. Toxicology. 148(2000): 119-123.

10: Friedman, M. 2015. Chemistry and carcinogenic mechanisms of glycolakaloids produced by eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 63(13): 3323-3327.

11: Hubbard, G. P. et al. 2006. Ingestion of onion soup high in quercetin inhibits platelet aggregation and essential components of the collagen-stimulated platelet activation pathway in man: a pilot study. British Journal of Nutrition. 96: 482-488.

12: Gautam, S. et al. 2010. Higher Bioaccessibility of Iron and Yinc from Food Grains in the Presence of Garlic and Onion. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58: 8426-8429.

13: Ashida, H. et al. 2000. Flavones and flavonols at dietary levels inhibit a transformation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor induced by dioxin. Federation of European Biochemical Societies – Letters. 476(2000): 213-217.

14: Savouret, J. F. Berdeaux, A. Casper, R. F. 2003. The aryol hydrocarbon receptor and its xenobiotic ligans: a fundamental trigger for cardiocascular diseases. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. 13: 104-113.


Solange Brugnatelli Vianini

Solange Brugnatelli Vianini graduated in BSc Biomedical Sciences. In her free time she enjoys trying out new recipes and sharing them with friends, and marrying this passion with her interest in sustainability, which is driving her actions towards reduced landfill waste, carbon footprint and animal products consumption. She cures a monthly recipe column on Nature Going Smart "with disease prevention in mind and planet care on the heart". Solange is currently researching genetic mutations by honing her bioinformatic skills at Abertay University, Scotland.

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