Vegetables are amazing. They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and simply packed with almost all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. You can eat them raw in a salad, or cook them in a variety of different ways to make them taste incredible. And best of all, they come with a ton of awesome benefits for your overall health and well-being.
Benefits of Eating More Vegetables
Most of us already know that vegetables are an important part of a well-balanced diet. According to dietary guidelines, we’re actually supposed to consume between 5-13 servings of vegetables each day (which is about 2.5 – 6.5 cups daily).
Yet despite this, Time magazine noted that a whopping 87% of the total U.S. population don’t even reach the recommended minimum goal of 2 to 3 cups a day.
The thing is, vegetables actually do a lot of great things for our health. If you normally tend to avoid eating your greens, you’ll want to check out some of these awesome benefits of increasing your veggie intake:
Reduced risk for chronic diseases
Eating more vegetables can actually help provide you with a good amount of healthy nutrients. They contain little to no cholesterol, and are wonderfully rich in fiber – which is broken down into short chain fatty acids (SCFA) by gut bacteria. Research has shown that SCFA actually reduce your risk of inflammatory diseases.
Veggies have also been proven to lower your chances of developing certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
Gives you healthy, glowing skin
A recent study by St Andrew’s University concluded that people who ate three additional daily portions of produce for six weeks were ranked as healthier looking than those with lower intakes.
So how do veggies help give your skin that radiant, healthy glow? That’s because they’re full of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and have a high water content. Many vegetables are also known for their anti-aging benefits, which help to give you firmer skin and combat wrinkles.
Great source of fiber
Vegetables are an excellent natural source of fiber, which provides a lot of different benefits for our bodies. It promotes better gut health, removes toxins and helps to keep us “regular”. Fiber also helps improve our digestion, allowing us to extract more nutrients from our food.
Boosts athletic performance and recovery
Those of us with active lifestyles know the importance of good nutrition for optimized athletic performance. Vegetables can also help provide a natural, lasting boost to our energy levels, and certain veggies have proven to boost endurance and speed up recovery after training – such as beetroot juice, tomato juice, and watercress.
Promotes healthy immune function
Eating more leafy green vegetables can actually help promote healthy immune function. They activate a gene called T-bet, which is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut (called innate lymphoid cells, or ILCs).
According to research, ILCs are thought to be essential for:
– Maintaining balance between tolerance, immunity and inflammation in your body
– Maintaining healthy intestinal balance by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria and healing small wounds and abrasions in the gut
– Preventing food allergies, inflammatory diseases, and obesity
– Producing a hormone that can protect your body from pathogenic bacteria
Is it possible to eat too many vegetables?
Even though we now know that veggies provide us with a ton of amazing benefits, you may be wondering if it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
The answer is “no” – the saying “moderation in all things” does not apply when it comes to vegetables.
That’s because vegetables are extremely nutrient-dense, which means that they provide lots of nutrients in a relatively small number of calories. So there’s no need to limit yourself.
However, you may want to avoid taking in too many starchy vegetables like yams, potatoes, corn, beans and peas. Also, if you find yourself experiencing unpleasant digestive symptoms or unintentionally losing weight after increasing your veggie intake, you may need to try cutting back on your greens and consult a doctor.
How do I include more vegetables in my diet?
We’re glad you asked! Even for those who like eating veggies, it can be a real challenge to make sure that you’re eating the recommended amount of servings each day.
Here are some sneaky ways for you to add more vegetables to your diet:
Make them into a smoothie
Start your day off with a smoothie that contains plenty of green vegetables (spinach, kale, etc), some fruits, and about two glasses of water. If you like, you could mix in a scoop of greens powder supplement as well. This provides you with a no-fuss way to drink your veggies, and will be a super-nutritious start to your morning.
Don’t hide them away
If you keep your veggies hidden in the back or bottom drawer of your fridge, you’ll be more likely to forget about them. Instead, stick them somewhere where you’ll see them as soon as you open the door, so you’ll be reminded to grab them and cook them.
Add more veggies to your meals
Take the everyday meals that you already make and add or double the amount of veggies that you put into them. For example, you could add broccoli to your pizza, or throw some roasted carrots, beets or cabbage into your pasta. Get creative and see how many different types of vegetables you can pack into what you’re already cooking.
Blend them in
If all else fails, there’s always the option to blend your veggies into whatever you’re eating. Blended veggies can be mixed into your pasta sauce, nacho cheese dip, or even French toast batter. Some other great ideas are to mash them into spreads and have them on toast in lieu of butter (like this great sweet potato spread).