Author: Christopher Roberts
June 26th, 2018 • 6 min read
Last Updated: August 12th, 2018
Inspiration of the article:
Vegetables are a gift to us humans. Without vegetables our diets would no longer even be diets. They can be eaten raw or cooked and play an important role in human nutrition, being mostly low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Many nutritionists encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, five or more portions a day often being recommended.
So now that we are reminded why its important to know when you are not eating enough vegetables, lets proceed further to the list of 8 things that show whether you're eating enough vegetables or not:
You ever decide to go on a cheat day and buy a burger with a couple pieces of salad, a tomato, a pickle, and tell yourself "okay, this isn't that bad. I'm getting some vegetables which should be good enough for my nutrition for today". Actually, the USDA's Dietary Guidelines recommend adults to eat anywhere from 5 to 13 servings of vegetables and fruits per day (depending on your gender, age, physical activity, and overall health). If you're not reaching those numbers with key nutrients then your overall health will not be as great as it should be.
Tip: Try to figure out a visual picture of what 5-13 servings of vegetables look like. Use that to your advantage every day to find out if your portion sizes are equal in similarity.
“The typical American meal of meat and potatoes may taste good, but it isn’t very colorful or loaded with balanced nutrition,” says Abby Sauer, RD, MPH, a dietician at Abbott. “Even though they may be favorite foods, plain pasta, rice, and bread don’t add much color to your meals and don’t add much nutrition in terms of essential vitamins and minerals either.”
Not getting enough Vitamin C can cause you to get bruises easily. In addition, you can also develop increased bleeding around gums heal slower than usual. Get vitamin C in dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, red peppers, kale, red chili peppers, and tomatoes.
Deficiency in folate can cause fatigue and anemia. This Vitamin B can be found in starchy vegetables and dark leafy greens such as lima beans, navy bean, asparagus, black eyed peas, kidney beans, and lentils.
“If you lack vegetables in your diet and the important vitamins they provide, your body may lack the defenses it needs to release free radical fighters against viruses,” says Sauer. “Stock your fridge with dark leafy green vegetables, an excellent source of vitamin C, to give your immune system a boost and help shorten your recovery time.”
While occasional forgetfulness can affect all ages, if you find your brain’s processing speed and efficiency fading as you get older, a lack of nutrients could be the culprit. “Lutein, a nutrient which has been shown in early research to enhance learning and memory, can be found in a variety of vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, corn, and tomatoes,” says Sauer. “Adding a few or all of these vegetables to your weekly meals can provide a helpful and natural brain boost.”
While stress is an inevitable part of life and happens to us all, how we eat and treat ourselves directly affects our body’s response. “Inflammation is your body’s natural response to stress, so if you’re not handling stress well, inflammation and its damaging effects could be taking place,” says Sauer. “Foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds such as unsaturated fatty acids like salmon and tuna, antioxidants, polyphenols and carotenoids like green leafy vegetables and bright-colored peppers can help lower the levels of inflammation in the body and increase your mental capabilities to handle life’s curveballs.”
Fruits and vegetables contain potassium that may prevent muscle cramps, especially if you’re exercising or outside in hot summer months, says Emily Rubin, RD, registered dietitian in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. “One medium banana has 422 mg of potassium.”
“Fruits and vegetables have fiber that makes you feel full so you eat less,” says Rubin. “Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories. Fruit may also help with those sweet cravings. Choosing a bowl of strawberries instead of ice cream can save you 200 calories.”
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What do all body builders and certified trainers have in common? They all prep their meals. According to Adrienne Youdim, MD, of Beverly Hills’ Lasky Clinic, prep is everything. “Spend a Sunday grilling your favorite veggies in a grill pan,” says Dr. Youdim. “Make them in abundance so that they can be incorporated into your salad or bagged lunch.”
People commonly choose Sunday to meal prep the rest of their lunches for the upcoming week as its the day where they're home resting after a saturday night out. Use it to your advantage.
“Adding color and variety to your daily meals with at least one serving of fruits or vegetables per meal can be as easy as unthawing a bag of frozen green beans, slicing up an apple, or adding a bowl of colorful berries to your meal,” says Sauer. It also makes the dinner more fancy to have a serving of boiled vegetables on the side.
Related: 18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss
“Many people avoid fresh vegetables because they go bad before having a chance to prepare them, they don’t like the chopping involved, or they’re not quite sure how to prepare them,” says Crystal Langlois RD, CSO, LD, clinical oncology dietitian at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. “Buying frozen vegetables is a great alternative that is convenient and easy. If all the prep work and chopping scares you, many grocery stores carry pre-chopped items in both the frozen and fresh produce areas.” If you still have that inner kid kicking and screaming to avoid eating your veggies, blend your veggies into shakes or smoothies. “The taste of vegetables is easily masked in shakes or smoothies by using fruits and fruits juices,” says Langlois. “Small diced mushrooms can be incorporated into hamburgers or meatloaf, as well.”
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