Why Veggies Matter!
We’ve always been told to eat our veggies, but do we truly know why? How many servings do you think you should be getting per day? How many do YOU get per day? Despite being told to increase our intake, vegetable consumption has declined 7% in the past 5 years.
A large portion of that is solely driven by a decrease in vegetables included at the dinner meal. Rather than continuing to tell you what you’ve been told all along….”eat more veggies, eat a variety of colors, aim for at least 4 to 5 cups per day”…
I’m going to tell you why.
It all comes down to Phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are plant-based micronutrients that play a key role in preventing cancer, brain disorders, and chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. They are powerful antioxidants that help combat free-radials in our body and reduce inflammation. This may be a foreign word to you but I’m sure you’ve heard of lycopene or beta-carotene. Both of these are Phytonutrients! Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is more bioavailable in cooked form (think marina sauce) and aids in heart health as well as the prevention of prostate cancer. Beta-carotene, found in carrots and other orange veggies, helps with vision and immune function.
According to nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, coauthor of The Fat Flush Plan , “If on a daily basis you incorporate at least seven different colors, you are much more likely to get a wide variety of these nutrients that are healing, that prevent degenerative disease, and that will go to work on every tissue, cell and organ of the body.”
Hippocrates was exactly right when he said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” What you put in your body provides your cells with what they need to fight off disease and provide long-term health in addition to making it much easier to achieve a nice waist-line.
Aside from providing Phytonutrients, there are other reasons to consume vegetables on a daily basis.
- They’re full of fiber, which helps keep you feel more satisfied with meals and aids in prevention of colon cancer.
- They’re very low in calories. Therefore, you can add them freely to meals to add volume without fear of over-consuming. Do be mindful of how you prepare your veggies though. Don’t batter and fry them or load them with cheese and sauce. Instead, try roasting, grilling, steaming, or lightly sautéing with a little coconut oil or grass-fed butter.
- They’re full of water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B Vitamins. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), which can be stored in your body, water-soluble vitamins need to be replenished daily. You body isn’t able to store them in significant amounts if you don’t frequently replenish your stores.
If you don’t like veggies, don’t worry! Try incorporating them in creative ways.
Here are some ideas:
- Shred zucchini and/or carrots and bake them into whole-grain breads.
- Finely chop kale or spinach and blend them into burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs.
- Puree butternut squash and add it to macaroni and cheese. The orange-hue will blend right in.
- Add a handful of spinach or other green to a fruit smoothie or protein shake.
- Puree steamed beets and add them to brownies or chocolate cake for a natural “red-velvet treat.”
- Use spaghetti squash in place of regular noodles and top with meatballs and marinara sauce.
If you avoid fresh produce because it sits in your refrigerator and goes bad before you get to, purchase frozen vegetables. They still contain just as many essential nutrients and will wait for you until you’re ready to eat them.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
One thing I like to do at the grocery store is go home with a vegetable that I’ve never tried before. When I get home, I find a recipe using that veggie and prepare it. It forces me outside of my comfort zone and exposes my body to a variety of nutrients. I challenge you to do the same! The worst thing that could happen is that you don’t like it.
Be adventurous! It’s for your health!