How to Get More Vegetables in Your Diet
A large national survey reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that only 26% of American adults are eating three or more servings of vegetables a day. Diets rich in vegetables are very important in helping to prevent a number of serious diseases, but Americans prefer fast food or convenience foods to vegetables which need to be washed and some even peeled.
The Benefits of Vegetables
There are a substantial number of health and nutritional benefits from eating adequate amounts of a variety of vegetables, including:
- Reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke)
- Reduction in the risk of diabetes
- Reduction in the risk of high blood pressure
- Possible reduction in the risk of some cancers
- Low in fat and calories
- Have no cholesterol
- Provide important nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C and E
Daily and Weekly Vegetable Requirements
Daily vegetable requirements vary by age, gender and level of physical activity. Here are the daily requirements for those who get less than 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity, according to MyPyramid.gov:
- Children 2-3 years old…… 1 cup
- Children 4-8 years old…… 1.5 cups
- Girls 9-13 years old……….. 2 cups
- Boys 9-13 years old………. 2.5 cups
- Girls 14-18 years old……… 2.5 cups
- Boys 14-18 years old……… 3 cups
- Women 19-50 years old….. 2.5 cups
- Men 19-50 years old………. 3 cups
- Women 51+ years old…….. 2 cups
- Men 51+ years old………… 2.5 cups
Weekly vegetable requirements for Adults aged 19-50 are:
- Dark green vegetables 3 cups per week
- Orange vegetables 2 cups per week
- Dry beans and peas 3 cups per week
- Starchy vegetables 3 cups per week for women but 6 cups a week for men
- Other vegetables 6.5 cups per week for women but 7 cups a week for men
Weekly vegetable requirements for Adults aged 51+ are:
- Dark green vegetables 2 cups per week for women; 3 cups per week for men
- Orange vegetables 1.5 cups per week for women; 2 cups per week for men
- Dry beans and peas 2.5 cups for women; 3 cups per week for men
- Starchy vegetables 2.5 cups per week for women; 3 cups a week for men
- Other vegetables 5.5 cups per week for women; 6.5 cups a week for men
A Dozen Ways to Get More Vegetables in Your Diet
Here are a dozen ways to get more vegetables in your diet as a step toward optimum nutrition:
- Eat more salads, including a salad with dinner every night
- Once or twice a week have a salad for your lunch
- Include at least three separate vegetables in each salad
- Snack on vegetables like raw carrots and celery instead of on high calorie snacks
- Add at least one serving of vegetables to each sandwich you consume
- Eat more low sodium soups and add several vegetables to them
- Eat more stews and make sure there are plenty of vegetables in each serving
- Include a tomato in your breakfast once or twice a week
- Add vegetables along with tomato sauce to your pasta
- Have one or more meatless days every week and fill up on a variety of vegetables
- Keep plenty of frozen vegetables in the freezer for quick microwaving
- Make your own vegetable juices
- Have several glasses of tomato juice each week
OK, it’s a baker’s dozen. Be a litle creative and you’ll be able to add to the list.
Adopt a Positive, Make-It-Happen Attitude
Make it happen by preparing special veggie shopping lists and doing weekly menu planning in advance of shopping to ensure that you will have both enough vegetables on hand and enough vegetables included in your daily and weekly meal plans.
Optimum nutrition is the goal and a sufficient intake of vegetables plays an important role in that nutrition. An added bonus is the reduction in calories consumed if you make it a habit to fill up on and snack on vegetables.
Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any chronic medical conditions and make gradual changes in your eating habits instead of all at once going from no vegetables at all to several servings a day.
Hubs that are focused on improving health or losing weight include:
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