Ironically, vegetables are the least eaten in America, yet the healthiest food group recommended. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, along with the MyPlate Guidelines, recommend that adults on a 2,000-calorie diet consume a minimum of 2½ cups of vegetables per day. Unfortunately, 90 percent of us don’t reach this recommendation. One serving equals two cups of raw leafy greens or just one cup of all fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables.
Nutrition experts believe that two main reasons that may lead to a lack of vegetable consumption are taste and convenience. When considering all products, vegetables tend to have a bitter taste compared to the sweetness of fruits. Vegetables are usually not eaten on their own, but instead are eaten after they have been cooked or prepared, increasing the time taken from the refrigerator, pantry, or freezer, to the dish. Moreover, vegetables are less common in a restaurant setting: they are rarely found on fast food menus and are not a top priority for casual dining offerings. This creates a small, but meaningful, barrier to optimal vegetable intake.
So why should you be so keen on overcoming these simple hurdles to eat more vegetables? Research indicates that diverse Vegetables provide advanced protection against chronic diseasesTherefore, it is very important to include it in your diet. The disease-protective effect is amplified when we choose a variety of vegetables every day that includes a variety of colors and types. This has been repeatedly demonstrated by a combination of systematic reviews, meta-analyses, observational studies, and interventional studies.
Read on to learn about some of the major chronic diseases that can be prevented, delayed, or controlled with adequate vegetable intake, and for more information on how to eat healthy, don’t miss out on the best juice to drink every day, says science.
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States, according to 2019 data. A 2018 meta-analysis of 69 prospective studies in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition It found that higher dietary intakes and/or serum concentrations of vitamin C, carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) were associated with lower cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. These nutrients and compounds are usually more abundant with adequate vegetable intake. Vegetables are also good sources of potassium, which is linked to better blood pressure control.
Well-respected cancer organizations such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) advocate for increased vegetable consumption. AICR developed the concept of the “New American Plate” that encourages a plant-based diet approach, including two-thirds of each meal such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. ACS gives vegetables to potentially lower cancer risk thanks to their vitamin, mineral and fiber content, along with the high water and low calorie contribution of vegetables aiding in weight management efforts.
In 2019, 1.4 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed, and 1.5 million people are expected to be diagnosed with diabetes in 2022. It is critical to understand the dietary habits that can help stop this momentum in its tracks. 2016 meta-analysis in Journal of Investigation of Diabetes It included an examination of 23 articles and found that a higher intake of green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables, or their fiber, was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The most promising nutrition message for people with diabetes is to eat a steady amount of carbohydrates, consume plenty of fiber, regularly include fruits and vegetables in the diet, and avoid excess added sugar.
Another meta-analysis, this time featured in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology In 2019, 18 prospective cohort studies identified and found that a healthy eating pattern, including diets that encourage high vegetable consumption, was associated with a lower incidence of chronic kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation urges eating more plant foods such as vegetables to help prevent and slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.
Molly Hembrey, MS, RD, LD
Molly Hembrey, MS, RD, LD, is a nationally registered dietitian. Read more