Even though everyone knows that vegetables are good for you, 7 out 10 Americans still do not meet the daily recommendations for vegetables. And, Americans are eating less today than 10 years ago. Consumers say their main reasons for not getting enough vegetables are not liking the taste, inconvenience, high cost, and low availability. However, there are plenty of easy, delicious and convenient ways for people to get more vegetables.
WHY DO I NEED VEGETABLES?
Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. Eating the recommended amount of vegetables can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Vegetables are also naturally lower in calories than other foods and therefore important in weight management.
Vegetables provide essential nutrients and most are low in fat. They are an important source of potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamins A and C.
Potassium: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
Magnesium: Necessary for healthy bones, muscles and for healthy blood pressure
Fiber: As part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce cholesterol levels and maintain digestive health
Folate: Helps the body form healthy red blood cells
Vitamin A: Keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections
Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy and aids in iron absorption
WHY ARE EATING DIFFERENT COLORED VEGETABLES IMPORTANT?
Think variety and think color. Eating a variety of vegetables allows you to get a range of nutrients. Different colored vegetables provide varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that provide unique health benefits. The phytonutrients are responsible for the colors of vegetables. Vegetables can be classified into color groups, such as Red (tomato), Orange (carrots), Green (spinach), White (onions, mushrooms), and Purple (cabbage). Phytonutrients work best when eaten together in a whole food. So, eating a wide variety of different colored vegetables provides greater health benefits than eating only a single type of vegetable.
HOW CAN VEGETABLES HELP MANAGE MY WEIGHT?
Eating foods like vegetables can help with weight management by adding bulk without a lot of calories. Eating bulker foods like vegetables helps people feel full and eat less over the day.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
The amount you need depends on your age, gender and how active you are. Most women should eat about 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily, men 3 cups, and children aged 4-8 years 1 ½ cups. In general, 1 cup is equal to 1 cup chopped or cooked vegetables, 1 cup vegetable juice, or 2 cups raw leafy greens.
EASY WAYS TO GET MORE VEGETABLES
Add vegetables or vegetable juice to soups, pasta dishes or casseroles
Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking
Drink vegetable juice as a snack or as a beverage with your meal
Buy pre-cut vegetables for quick salads and snacks