As children, we are constantly reminded to eat our vegetables so that we can grow up healthy and strong. But how many of us actually take that advice to heart? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 87% of American adults eat less than the recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. This means that the majority of us are not getting the nutrients our bodies need to function properly.
A healthy diet contains plenty of vegetables. Vegetables are low in fat, sodium, and calories and high in nutrients. However, not all veggies are created equally. Each vegetable contains various nutrients that offer different benefits to your overall health. Spinach is packed with Vitamin A, which is excellent for healthy skin and hair. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin C, which supports a strong immune system to help your body fight disease. By choosing a variety of different vegetables to include in your diet, you’ll keep your meals and snacks interesting, while ensuring your body has sources of all the nutrients it needs.
Vegetable variety is key to overall health. You can make sure you’re getting enough variety by ensuring your plate is colorful. To get the most nutrients, be sure to include a veggie from each of the 5 subgroups: dark green vegetables, red/orange vegetables, beans/legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables.
Top tips for vegetable variety:
- Shop locally. Check out farmer’s markets to browse fresh vegetable options while supporting local farmers.
- Buy seasonally. In-season vegetables are the freshest and cheapest available. Buying what’s in season prevents you from getting stuck in a vegetable rut.
- Try a vegetable main course. American meals typically feature meat as the main dish. Switch it up and make veggies the star of the show! Try a delicious, vegetable-based recipe, like a soup, salad, or vegetarian chili.
- Don’t forget frozen. It is always best to eat fresh vegetables. However, when fresh produce options are lacking, frozen veggies offer a quick, budget friendly option to add nutrients to your diet.
Sources: Clemson.edu, CDC. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.