You already know why you need them, but figuring out how to eat more vegetables is always a good idea. Whether you’re simply not a fan of the green stuff, or you feel you’ve maxed out all the ways of incorporating veggies to your meals, learn how to up your daily vegetable intake.
Read on for fast facts on why eating more vegetables in your daily diet is so important, along with great ideas on effortlessly adding them to your dishes and recipes. These tips and recipe ideas go above and beyond prepping your usual vegetable salads and raw veggie sticks — they’re perfect if you’re a picky eater (or have one in your family). Not only that, you’ll find that there are more than a few ways you can sneak extra veggies into your already-favorite recipes, hopefully inspiring you to more seamlessly give all your meals a needed vegetable boost.
Three Major Reasons Why You Should Eat More Vegetables
The American Heart Association recommends eating 4-5 servings of vegetables every day, with each serving amounting to about a half cup (or a full cup if measuring green leafy greens). Unfortunately, many Americans don’t get enough greens in their diet.1,2
Why aren’t some people eating enough veggies? There are several potential reasons. There’s a notion that fresh veggies may cost a lot of time and money to prepare, making it challenging to consistently keep them on a meal plan. And coupling busy schedules with not-so-fond memories of mushy veggie dishes growing up might discourage some from filling their plates with healthy vegetables on the regular.
But it’s an irrefutable fact that a solid veggie intake is key to optimal physical health, so it’s high time to make more of an effort to eat them. Here are some compelling reasons to make sure you reach your five-a-day.3
1. Vegetables Are Great Sources Of Dietary Fiber
Most vegetables contain lots of fiber, and an adequate intake of fiber can help support your digestive system. And when your digestion is optimal, you’re one step closer to good gut health — essential in making sure your body absorbs the nutrients it needs.4
2. Veggies Are Good For The Heart
Vegetables, particularly the green leafy and cruciferous kinds, are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may help support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Serving up plenty of helpings of veggies helps support good cardiovascular health.5
3. Vegetables Help Keep You Sharp
Loading up on lots of vegetables can help keep you focused and productive, as veggies contain a high level of nutrients that support brain health. Not only that, filling up on veggies may help you feel full for longer — so you might be less prone to mood swings or energy crashes.6
Ingenious Ways To Eat More Veggies
Now comes the tricky part — making sure you’re able to get extra vegetables into your daily diet. Here are some tips and tricks that’ll help you make the most out of your produce to ensure you’re getting all the nutrition you need.
Make Noodles Out Of Vegetables
By turning your vegetables into noodles, you can up the nutrition factor and lower the carb quotient of your favorite pasta and noodle dishes. Try shredding or running carrots, zucchini, spaghetti squash, or even sweet potatoes through a spiralizer and cooking and tossing them in sauce as you would regular pasta noodles. You can even make vegetable lasagna by slicing the vegetables thinly using a mandoline and then layering them like you would lasagna noodles.7
Sneak Cauliflower Into Your Pantry Staples
Cauliflower holds up very well in different ways of cooking. Its actual taste or flavor isn’t distracting — making it a great substitute for a lot of common ingredients or pantry items. You can shred cauliflower in a food processor and make cauliflower rice, you can cook and eat as is in replacement for regular rice or grains, or you can opt to turn it into a base for cauliflower pizza crust.8
Experiment With Lettuce Wraps
Replace your usual pitas or wheat flatbreads with a sturdy leaf of lettuce — or try some new flavors by using swiss chard, kale, or even cabbage. There’s a ton of delicious healthy lettuce wrap recipes online to help get you started.9
Turn Veggies Into Tasty Snacks
Tickle your taste buds by getting creative with veggies as snacks. Your usual raw veggies cut into crudites (think green beans, carrots, and bell peppers) make great dippers for flavorful dips or hummus. Swap out your usual potato chips for roasted root vegetables thinly-sliced and seasoned, and enjoy the wonderful world of veggie chips.10
Veg Up Your Breakfast Smoothies
A green smoothie is a great breakfast go-to. Toss a handful of spinach into your usual fruit smoothie, or try adding avocados for a creamy twist.
To make sure you’re consuming a good variety of vegetables, try making ready-to-go smoothie bags filled with chopped frozen vegetables and fresh fruit that you can simply toss into the blender each morning.11
Add A Serving Of Veggies To Your Go-To Dishes
Most dishes can benefit from a vegetable boost. Get creative with them, and you’ll notice a new dimension of flavor and texture. Add spinach (or other leafy greens) to your vegetable soup. Include sliced cherry tomatoes and black beans in your usual quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. Incorporate peppers and pureed spinach into your pasta sauce and burger patties.12
Veg Out And Get Healthier
Start simple, like by adding a smoothie a day, and soon you can work your way into getting a serving of vegetables into almost every meal — even snack time. Once you start seeing and feeling the health benefits, getting the recommended amount of vegetables into your diet will be easy.
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