Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies
How many times have you heard the advice to eat your veggies? Is it really that important? Absolutely! Veggies are high in beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. They're naturally low in calories, sodium and fat. They add color and texture to meals and make quick, convenient snacks.
Research shows that eating a diet high in vegetables provides many health benefits, including decreased risk for cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, decreased calorie intake with improved weight control, improved immune system, vision, memory and urinary tract health and healthier aging. And these benefits cannot be achieved simply by taking supplements.
Yet, despite so many reasons to eat more veggies, many people still aren't getting enough. In fact, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey on American eating habits, only one in ten Americans eat a dark green or deep yellow vegetable on any given day.
How many servings of veggies should you be eating daily? Specific recommendations depend on your age, sex, and level of physical activity. But, in general, the USDA recommends 2 - 3 cups per day minimum for adults. If you take a quick look back to your recent daily intake, are you getting your full daily serving of veggies?
Here are some tips to help you increase your veggies and meet your daily needs:
- Buy fresh veggies in season. They cost less and taste better at their peak.
- Grow a vegetable garden for a bounty of fresh veggies in season. Also, shop regularly at the Farmer's Markets in your area.
- Eat salads at least once a day. Choose low calorie dressings on the side.
- Stock your pantry and freezer with canned (without added salt) and frozen (without added sauces or salt) veggies for variety and if you're out of fresh
- Plan to include veggies with every lunch and dinner and even with snacks.
- Buy veggies that are easy to prepare. To save time, try prepared bags of salad greens, baby carrots or celery sticks and veggies in ready-to-cook microwave-safe bags.
- Try going meatless at least once a week. Choose protein-rich beans as a meat alternative and load up on plenty of veggies.
- Don't get in a rut by eating only the same veggies - the food pyramid recommends you "vary your veggies" and include more dark green and deep yellow veggies and increase beans and peas.
- Try vegetable toppings on your pizza.
- Explore vegetable options by learning about new veggies and trying new recipes.
- Sneak veggies in by shredding carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads and muffins.
- Puree carrots and add to soups or spaghetti sauces.
- Eat the rainbow - the different colors in veggies provide different health benefits, so include all the colors regularly.
2. Stealth Health by Evelyn Tribole, Penguin Books, NY, 1998
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