Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables. A little creativity can correct the problem.
Vegetables are good for you. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (nourishing plant chemicals, many of which function as antioxidants) that benefit our health in all kinds of ways. Among the many studies proving the benefits of high levels of vegetable consumption is a 2007 study by researchers at the University of Cambridge, which studied the diets of nearly 17,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 79 and found that the more vegetables (and fruits) they ate, the healthier they were.
Besides being packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, most vegetables also contain lots of fiber and water. Why is this important? Research has shown that we tend to eat a consistent volume of food each day, regardless of how many calories are contained in it. Water and fiber increase the volume of foods without increasing calories. Vegetables are said to be less “calorically dense” than other foods because their high water and fiber content makes them very filling compared to other foods of equal calories. For example, cooked zucchini contains just 16 calories per 100 grams, whereas cheddar cheese contains 100 calories per 100 grams. Therefore, by replacing any non-vegetable food in your diet (e.g., meats, grains, dairy products) with a vegetable you can cut calories without actually eating less.
The U.S. government recommends that adults consume two-and-half to three cups of vegetables (one cup of leafy salad counts as one-half cup of veggies). Seven out of 10 Americans fail to meet this requirement.
Sellers of antioxidant supplements, powdered vegetable extracts and the like will try to convince you that the reason so few of us eat enough vegetables is that eating vegetables is expensive and somehow time-consuming. These claims are ridiculous. We know very well that we don’t eat enough vegetables because we prefer the taste of hamburgers and, relatedly, because traditional breakfast and lunch food choices especially do not include vegetables.
Getting more vegetables in your diet need not be expensive or time consuming — or yucky. All it requires is that you learn and practice simple, tasty ways to break out of common vegetable-avoidance habits. Here are some suggestions:
About The Author:
Matt Fitzgerald is the author of Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen & The Greatest Race Ever Run (VeloPress 2011) and a Coach and Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports. Find out more at mattfizgerald.org.