“Eat your vegetables!” Most of us can remember hearing this at least a few times in our lives. But why are vegetables such a vital piece of our overall nutrition? Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall good health. People who eat more vegetables reduce their risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and certain types of cancer. They are an important source of potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid. Potassium may help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Vitamin A & C help keep your eyes and skin healthy, help fight infections and promote wound healing, and aid in iron absorption. Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol levels, promotes proper bowel function, and helps control your blood sugar levels.
Not only do vegetables provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, but also are key to making weight management easier. Vegetables are a low fat, low calorie food filled with fiber. By substituting a higher-calorie food for vegetables you will feel fuller longer leading to overall weight loss or maintenance.
Vegetables are a crucial part of an overall healthy diet, but how many should we be eating in a day? The My Plate recommendations from the USDA are to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal. Experts suggest we eat 4-6 servings of vegetables daily. Some tips to keep in mind are to vary the color of the veggies you are eating to get a wider variety of nutrients into your diet.
Look for vivid colors as they tend to be higher in nutrients. Add them to meals you already enjoy such as an extra topping on your pizza or into your spaghetti sauce. Find new ways to enjoy them as a snack like dipping them into hummus, avocado, or peanut butter. Experiment with how you prepare them by roasting, steaming, or grilling different types of vegetables. For more ideas of new, delicious ways to enjoy vegetables head over to the Promise Facebook Page and check out our National Vegetable Day Video. It shows how to prepare these amazing veggies in lots of different ways. Have fun finding new ways to prepare and enjoy this super-food group!