Not a fan of the green stuff? Join the party: less than 10% of American adults consume the recommended intake of vegetables each day.
While many of us would like to shrug off vegetable consumption as an optional gold star, meeting nutritional requirements is one participation trophy you should consider vying for.
Unfortunately, even while taking supplements and consuming fiber or water from other sources, the effects of vegetable consumption are unable to be replicated due to the intrinsic biochemical properties of nutrients consumed in whole food form.
Vegetable consumption is incredibly important in the context of overall health
Vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense, meaning that they contribute a large amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water to the diet for very few calories.
Studies have shown that diets containing a large amount of vegetable matter support a reduced risk for obesity, cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
Or, in other words, as vegetable consumption increases, the risk of these conditions goes down.
A large research review encompassing 156 studies published in the British Journal of Cancer found that individuals with low vegetable consumption have about twice the lifetime risk of cancer when compared to individuals with higher vegetable consumption.
A systematic review published in the journal nutrients found that eating at least four serving of vegetable matter each day reduces the risk of obesity by 82%.
If you struggle to consume an appropriate amount of vegetables each day (sorry, starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes don’t count), try these easy tips to rehabilitate your relationship with the produce section and meet your nutritional requirements.
1. Green Means Go!
Always start your meal with a green vegetable: this will help fill you up and ensure you don’t over consume other higher calorie items. Starting with the green stuff first also means that you’re more incentivized to eat a veggie, as you’re starting off with an empty stomach.
2. Reduce by Half
Reduce your snack consumption by half: make a rule that every other snack needs to be a vegetable.
3. Mix It Up!
Not a fan of veggies on their own? Start by incorporating vegetables into a main dish, rather than serving them as a side dish. Branch out over time as your taste buds acclimate.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).