Are You Getting Your Daily Dose Of Vegetables?
The health benefits of vegetable nutrition are enormous. Brightly colored vegetables contain a complex array of antioxidants and minerals that appear to work in unison to help protect cells from damage that is linked to aging, macular degeneration (blurred or no vision), and even some types of cancer.
While there are hundreds of supplementary forms of these nutrients, the evidence suggests that the health benefits are strongest when the real food forms are eaten. The average adult needs at least three cups of vegetables a day. Are you getting enough?
Vegetables are loaded with fiber that can help you lose weight. Research has shown that fiber has appetite-suppressant qualities that helps you feel more satiated, thereby preventing unhealthy snacking. Fiber also helps improve metabolic markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar; helping protect the heart and cardiovascular health.
Due to their higher water and phytochemical (active compound found in plants that helps them thrive) content, vegetables help produce glowing skin. The carotenoids pigment that give vegetables their red and orange hues can also improve the color of your skin giving it a more “rosy” complexion. Many vegetables are also known for their anti-aging benefits, helping firm your skin and combat wrinkles.
A daily intake of vegetables can help support digestion and improve gut health. Constipation is one of the most common bowel problems, impacting nearly 1 in 5 Americans at any given time. It’s not only uncomfortable but can cause bloating and painful cramps. The fiber and water in vegetables can help prevent this problem, and promotes optimal gut health in general by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and arugula have anti-cancer properties. They have been repeatedly shown to help prevent certain cancers by inhibiting cancer cell growth and promoting apoptosis (cell death). These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates which has been shown to be responsible for the cancer-preventive and anti-carcinogenic activities. Broccoli, and even more so broccoli sprouts, contain the highest amounts of isothiocyanates. Try adding broccoli sprouts to your salad.
Some tips to increasing your vegetable uptake:
- Fill up at least half of your plate with veggies at each meal.
- Cut your veggies ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator in a glass container with a little water at the bottom to keep them fresh so you can snack on them throughout the day.
- Dip them in nut butter, tzitziki, salsa, guacamole, or a balsamic vinaigrette to make it more exciting.
- Experiment with new vegetables. The farmer’s market is a great source for local, fresh, seasonal veggies and a lot of farmers will let you sample before you purchase.
- Order an extra serving when eating out at a restaurant instead of fries or chips.
- Add any extra leftover veggies into a soup or stew as they will add more nutrients and enhance the flavor.