Evidence continues to mount on the value of vegetables. In studies around the world, the more vegetables people eat, the lower their risk of chronic diseases. Vegetables play this starring role because they are low in calories, full of fiber, and packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Non-starchy vegetables have only about 25 calories per 1/2 cup, so they're a great component of any weight-loss plan. This article will give you the nutritional information you need to know about vegetables, as well as some tips on how to work the proper amount of veggies into your diet. Let's get started with some advice on how to pick the right vegetables.
Color is Key
Choose colorful veggies to get the most health benefits. The substances that provide vegetables with their beautiful array of colors are disease-fighting phytochemicals. Make your plate pass the "rainbow test" at every meal, and you'll have a plate full of goodness. In addition to recommending an overall amount of vegetables, the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines go a step further. For the first time, the Guidelines recommend intake levels for each type of vegetable. These amounts are given per week, rather than per day, because it would be difficult to eat some of each kind of vegetable every day.
How Many Servings Per Day?
Weight-watchers will probably aim to eat two to three cups of vegetables each day. Think of eating the amounts listed in the subgroups, 1/2 cup or more at a time, several times a week. Instead of numbers on a chart, they suddenly become an achievable -- and delicious -- food plan.
most nutrient-dense vegetables -- those in the dark green subcategory -- unfortunately are also those that Americans are least likely to consume. They include broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard, turnip, and mustard greens. Aim to get 1/2 cup four to six days a week.
See the next page to view more serving recommendations for vegetables.