By Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD
When it comes to making sound nutrition choices, many would like it to be black and white. This food is good; this food is bad. This fruit is the worst; this vegetable is the best. However, healthy eating isn’t all black and white. Eating nutritiously is all about selecting a variety of wholesome foods. When it comes to vegetables, certainly all are good for you, but some are stronger in specific nutritional contributions. A nutrient-rich diet that protects against disease is packed with a variety of different vegetables.
According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, adults should consume 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily, depending on age and gender. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t reaching that goal. Getting the recommended amount of vegetables per day can help improve your overall health by lowering your risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Vegetables, rich in fiber, also can help boost your digestive health and promote a healthier weight. And of course, eating your veggies helps you pack your diet with essential nutrients and antioxidant compounds.
If you’re trying to get more vegetables into your diet, try these tips.
If your sandwich is usually just bread, meat and cheese, consider adding a healthy layer of vegetables. In addition to the usual tomato and lettuce, try baby spinach, roasted red peppers, and shredded carrots.
Vegetable soups or pasta sauces are great vehicles to boost your vegetable intake. Add chopped peppers, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini and more to the pot as it simmers.
Macaroni and cheese, chili and other one-pot meals are delicious with extra vegetables mixed in, such as bell peppers, broccoli, corn or tomatoes.
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