by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
How many vegetables do you eat daily? If you’re like a lot of people, not many. In fact, only about 10% of Americans eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day. What this is doing is causing many Americans to be deficient in key nutrients, antioxidants, and health-preserving benefits.
The thought of eating more vegetables is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re busy, but it should be close to the top. Vegetables can help you in so many ways!
Eating more vegetables can lead to a healthier life, fewer instances of chronic diseases, and more energy throughout the day. Including as many different types of vegetables in your diet as possible and in a broad color palate is essential. Each vegetable has its own unique nutrient profile, so by eating a wide variety of different veggies, you get a wider variety of nutrients.
At a minimum, you should be at least adding a greens powder into your nutrition plan if eating vegetables is not your thing.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making changes to your nutrition plan.
7 Vegetables You Should Consume Daily & Why
Vegetables have gotten a bad rap. They’re often portrayed as the boring food you eat when you don’t have time for anything else. But it’s time to change that perception and start eating more veggies.
Below are seven veggies that you should put in your daily diet and the reasoning as to why they should be a staple in your nutrition plan:
Spinach is one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables you can eat. One cup of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A and 120% of the DV for vitamin K, and it has only 7 calories.
Spinach contains antioxidants, which may help decrease disease risks. According to a study, it was found that spinach is high in beta-carotene and lutein, which are two antioxidants that are linked with a reduced risk of cancer.
Another study found that spinach may be good for heart health by helping reduce blood pressure.
Carrots are high in vitamin A, offering 119% of the DV in just one cup. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which helps your eyes see in low light and aids in the production of red blood cells. They also help to protect against heart disease and cancer. Carrots are also a good source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body.
According to a study involving more than 57,000 people who consumed at least 2-4 carrots per week showed a 17% reduced risk of colorectal cancer in the long run.
The king of greens has been around since ancient times and is still enjoyed today for its rich nutritional value. Kale provides around 7 calories per cup of raw greens and generous amounts of vitamins A, C, and K.
According to a 2018 study, males with high cholesterol who consumed 150 ml of kale juice every day for 12 weeks experienced a 10% decrease in low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, and a 27% growth in high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol.
Other research shows that kale juice can reduce blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale. One cup of raw broccoli contains 77% of the DV for vitamin K, 90% of the DV for vitamin C, and a high amount of folate, potassium, and magnesium. Broccoli is also rich in a sulfur-containing plant compound known as glucosinolate and its byproduct, sulforaphane.
According to researchers in test-tube and animal studies, sulforaphane has the ability to protect against cancer.
Another small study suggested that broccoli sprouts can decrease levels of several markers of inflammation, which have been associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease.
Beets are a great source of folate, which is vital for the production of red blood cells. Beets are the perfect vegetable to start your day. Not only are they full of fiber, but they also contain nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax, which can lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
According to a review of 11 studies, the nitrates found in beet juice may lower blood pressure levels. Hence, this may reduce your risk of heart issues.
A member of the onion family, garlic is known as a “superfood” because it contains more allicin (a potent antioxidant) than any other vegetable.
Garlic has been used for centuries to treat infections, colds, and flu. It also helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber and vitamin C, which may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
One medium sweet potato provides 4 g of fiber, 2 g of protein, and a good amount of manganese, potassium, and vitamins C and B6.
According to a study, beta-carotene is linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers, which includes lung cancer.
Another review of 23 studies shows that sweet potatoes may help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.