Food Facts: Vegetables

When you were a child, would your mom make you eat two more spoonfuls of peas before you were allowed to leave the dinner table? Well, since we were children, we have known how important vegetables are in our diet. They should not be taken lightly, as their benefits are certainly not “light”.

Vegetables help your body in a variety of ways, which just doesn’t leave you room to say “no thanks”. To begin, they contain many vital vitamins and minerals that your body needs for proper functioning. Vitamin A, which keeps your eyes healthy and helps your body prevent infection, is abundant in many veggies. In addition, Potassium, which can help to keep your blood pressure within a normal, healthy range, is also common. Other nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fiber, and folate are rich in vegetables. Veggies help you in more ways than just providing vitamins and minerals, as they also provide protection from certain cancers, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, and help to maintain your weight.

Women need at least two and a half cups of vegetables each day, while men need at least three cups; unfortunately, many people do not meet these requirements. Based on your calorie needs, the amount of vegetables needed may actually be slightly higher. Your goal should be to consume a wide variety of deeply colored vegetables, as they have the most benefits.Sometimes it may be difficult to figure out what counts as a cup serving. One cup would be the same as eating one large raw tomato, any raw or cooked vegetable that measures one cup, two cups of raw, leafy greens (like spinach leaves), and two large sticks of celery. It is very easy to increase your vegetable intake by just putting down that bag of chips and substituting veggies as your snack; just eating six broccoli florets or six baby carrots counts as a half a cup serving!

So, make room in your meals to have more vegetables, instead of a calorie filled, less nutritional side dish.Isn’t your health worth it?

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Harvard School of Public Health


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