We all know vegetables are part of a healthy diet. In fact, many of my patients admit that they need to eat more vegetables. But for some reason, the majority of Americans are still not meeting their recommended daily consumption of vegetables.
- In the United States, it is recommended that adults should consume a minimum of 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.
- Active adults should be consuming more than this.
I always tell my patients that non-starchy vegetables are like Mother Nature’s weight control pill. They’re low in carbs, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s a win-win-win situation. The fiber in vegetables often requires more chewing.This can help slow down your eating pace so your brain can register earlier when you are actually full. Fiber itself can also lead to higher satiety levels meaning you generally will stay full longer after consuming a fiber-rich meal. Vegetables also have a high water content. This is one of the main reasons why they are so low in calories.
- One cup of cooked zucchini slices is a mere 30 calories!
- One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is over 200 calories.
They also increase the flavor of a dish whether you’re adding some sweetness from red bell peppers or a savory touch from mushrooms and garlic. Filling, delicious and low in calories-what more could you ask for?!?!
Tomatoes, potatoes and sweet corn are the top three vegetables consumed in the US.1 Unfortunately, white potatoes and corn are known as the starchy vegetables; they contain a higher amount of carbohydrates and calories and both have a high glycemic index. This makes them less-healthy vegetable choices, especially if one is diabetic. Another interesting fact is the form of these vegetables that are most commonly consumed. Canned tomatoes make up the largest portion of tomato consumption while frozen potatoes and corn are the forms that Americans most commonly devour. My guess is this is related to a high consumption of tomato sauce, pizza and French fries.
A recent European study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that consuming 7 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day reduces one’s risk of all-cause death (cancer, heart disease) at any point in time by 42%.2 Additionally, researchers found that fresh vegetables had the strongest positive effect with reducing overall risk of death. Fresh fruit also showed a positive effect; however it was much less than the risk reduction rate of fresh vegetables. Even though we really didn’t need a study to tell us that fruits and vegetables are healthy, this does support the concept that consuming more vegetables and fruits can help you live a longer, healthier life!
Also try to limit consumption of peas, corn and potatoes and focus more on dark green or bright red/orange vegetable varieties.