When Hippocrates famously said that “Food is medicine,” he may well have been referring to the many potential health benefits of eating vegetables. Eating a wide variety of veggies is part of any healthy diet, as they contribute much-needed vitamins and minerals to the body. Vegetables can help optimize health.
Americans simply aren’t including enough fruits and vegetables in their diet. One study found that while people are exceeding their calorie requirements in their daily meals, they’re not getting enough nutritional content. This may lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins.1,2
Read on to learn more about some of the wonderful ways eating lots of vegetables may help contribute to your health and wellness. It might just motivate you to add more veggies to your healthy meals and create a balanced diet.
The Benefits Of Vegetables: Why Is It Important To Eat Vegetables?
Vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Consuming a wide variety of vegetables can help ensure your body gets vitamins and minerals to help you stay strong and healthy. You can also get more dietary fiber from vegetables, which is essential to your body functioning optimally — another great benefit of upping your vegetable intake.3
Need more convincing? Here are eight specific, science-backed ways a diet rich in various types of vegetables may help support your overall health.
1. Vegetables Help Keep Your Eyes In Tip-Top Shape
The vitamins and minerals in vegetables may help support eye health. Orange-hued veggies, including carrots and sweet potatoes, are a good source of vitamin A. And vitamin A helps support overall eye health, including helping to keep your eyes moist and promoting retinal health.4
Meanwhile, green leafy vegetables (think spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and even lettuce) are abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin. These two powerful antioxidants in leafy greens may help keep your eyesight sharp and detailed.5
2. Vegetables Could Help Support Skin Health
Vegetables may also help contribute to glowing, youthful-looking skin. Turn to veggies with high water content, like cucumber and celery, to help keep skin hydrated. Green vegetables also contain compounds that might help skin retain its youthful texture and elasticity.6
3. Vegetables May Help Support Your Immune System
The link between high vegetable consumption and stronger immune function is well-researched. Many vegetables are rich in beta carotene and vitamins C and E. These vitamins may help support the immune system. Which vegetables contain plenty of vitamin C, as well as a variety of vitamins that may help support immunity? Look to green leafy vegetables, peppers, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli), and beans.7
Did you know that eating plenty of vegetables might help support a healthy weight? Maintaining a healthy weight could help benefit the immune system as well.8
4. Vegetables May Help Support Healthy Digestion And Overall Gut Health
Fiber is essential to promoting healthy and regular bowel movements, while also feeding and supporting beneficial gut bacteria. So, turn to fiber-rich vegetables to make sure you get your fill. Common veggies rich in fiber include broccoli, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, beets, kale, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes.9
5. Vegetables May Help Support Weight Loss
Since vegetables are high in fiber and plant-based proteins, they help keep you full for longer, potentially helping you cut down on foods that add to weight gain. They are also lower in calories while providing your body with energy-giving vitamins and minerals.10
6. Vegetables May Help Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Vegetables are high in plant compounds that might help support healthy blood sugar levels. Eating more non-starchy vegetables that are high in fiber and antioxidants may help promote more balanced blood sugar levels.11
7. Blood Pressure Levels
Healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels are integral to good heart health. Controlling both is important in keeping your blood vessels and heart healthy. The nutrients in vegetables, like leafy greens and beets (potassium and magnesium), have been shown to help support healthy blood pressure levels already within a normal range.12
8. Vegetables May Help Support Strong Bones
The vitamin C found in vegetables is essential to helping your body form and maintain strong bones. Furthermore, vegetables also contain beneficial plant chemicals that help support bone density and contribute to cell turnover that helps build new and stronger bones.13,14,15
What Counts As A Serving Of Vegetables?
Now that you’re fully aware what kinds of vegetable varieties you should keep an eye out on during your next grocery run, it’s time to make sure you’re consuming enough of them to truly reap the potential health benefits. As most dietary guidelines recommend about five servings per day, here’s a guide to show you what one serving looks like:
- Leafy or raw vegetables: 1 cup vegetables
- Fresh, frozen, or otherwise cooked vegetables: ½ cup
- Fresh vegetable juice (watch out for added sugars and sodium): ½ cup16
Keep It Fresh By Staying Creative
One of the best ways to make vegetables part of a well-balanced, regular diet is to have fun with them. Experiment with flavorful salads, soups, and stews using fresh produce to complement a variety of foods. Look up new recipes to beef up your vegetable serving suggestions. Soon, you may find yourself noshing on some of the most nutritious foods ever — not because you have to, but because you simply enjoy it.
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