Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be a chore. There is such a massive variety of vegetables at your disposal on any given day. And a variety of vegetables means a variety of flavor, texture, and wellness benefits.
Now, you’re told from a very young age to fill your plate with several servings of vegetables. So why is it a lesson so hard-learned? Simple. The food industry doesn’t have your long-term health goals at heart. They create foods they can manufacture cheaply and entice you in that direction.
Meanwhile, all of your delicious dark leafy greens and farmer’s market favorites sit on the shelf. But you’ve got to get those nutrients in your belly. The vitamins and minerals you get from a plant-based diet are essential.
Are you eating a lot of vegetables in your diet? Read here to discover the many health and weight loss benefits of eating a variety of vegetables every day.
Your Diet And The Long-Term Health Effects Of Food: Are You Eating Enough Vegetables?
There have been quite a few cross-sectional studies that show a significant association between extremely-processed food intake and negative long-term health outcomes like the following:
- Significant weight gain
- Metabolic health issues
- Spikes in blood pressure
- Higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol1
On the other hand, if you consume a lot of vegetables and limit your intake of high-sugar and processed foods, you might experience a series of positive long-term effects. For instance, in a recent study, a higher intake of vegetables and fruits was significantly associated with lower odds of poor brain function.2
Additionally, regular consumption of vegetables and fruits can give you more of the dietary fiber your body needs. And higher fiber intake is associated with a lower incidence of heart health issues and weight gain.3
Make sure that about half of your plate is filled with fresh vegetables and fruits (per the recommendation of the United States Department of Agriculture). This can help ensure you’re actually getting more of the essential vitamins and minerals you need. Vegetables are full of helpful phytochemicals that offer the following properties —
- Protection from puffiness and redness in the body
- Antioxidant power to defend against oxidative stress and free radical damage
- Phytoestrogen benefits like reduced health issues, and supported bone and heart health4,5
Vegetables Are Loaded With Nutrients, Vitamins, And Minerals That Are Good For Your Body and Health
Now, both fruits and vegetables are essential when it comes to a healthy diet.6 Did you know the World Health Organization actually recommends an intake of five to eight servings of vegetables and fruits every single day? That’s roughly 400 — 600 grams of vegetables and fruits.
What makes these plant-based foods so healthy? For starters, they’re low in calories and can contain powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Just look at what you can grab from these veggies you might already have at home—
- Beans contain healthy doses of iron
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale lend you so much vitamin A
- Nuts, seeds, and healthy oils (like olive oil) can give you much of the vitamin E and healthy fats on which your body relies7
Vegetables May Support Weight Loss And Digestive Health
But the health benefits of veggies don’t stop at their vitamin content. Did you know if you fill up on vegetables and fruits, you’re actually less likely to gain weight than if you snack on junk food? It’s no surprise, really, but vegetables are very filling.
And if there’s less room in your belly for junk food, you won’t eat it. Also, veggies are lower in calories — generally speaking — than various processed cookies, chips, and crackers.
Also, vegetables are naturally high in dietary fiber which is a key element when it comes to a healthy digestive system.8
Healthy Veggie Recipes To Try: Sauteed Leafy Greens, Steamed Green Beans, And Baked Peppers
So, now that you’re in the know when it comes to stock-piling your veggies, you might be wondering how to cook and prepare the best plant-based meals. You’ve come to the right place.
Try these great recipes to get started:
Sauteed Leafy Greens
Here’s What You Need:
- 1 pound dark leafy greens (eg. kale, Swiss chard, spinach)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/4 cup onion (chopped)
- Fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or orange juice)
Here’s What To Do:
- Wash and drain your greens. Cut the leaves (and stems if you like) into 1/2″ pieces.
- On medium heat, let the olive oil simmer in a frying pan. Sauté the garlic and onions. Add your green leaf pieces. Then stir for no more than 5 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon and voila! You’re done.
Steamed Green Beans
Here’s What You Need:
- 1 pound fresh green beans
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper
Here’s What To Do:
- Trim the ends and wash your green beans.
- Place your steaming basket in a large saucepan and fill it with 2 inches of water.
- Place the trimmed beans in the basket. On high heat, boil your water. Lower the temperature to medium heat when it boils, then cover the pan and steam your green beans for 6 minutes or so. Taste test for crunch.
- When the beans are cooked to taste, ditch the saucepan. Add the olive oil and toss with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
What You Need:
- Red, orange, or yellow peppers
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Red pepper flakes (for a pinch of heat)
What To Do:
- Removing the seeds and thick membranes, cut up your peppers into 1/4ths.
- Line your baking sheet with parchment. Spread out your pepper slices.
- Pour a little olive oil over your peppers. Spice to taste.
- Bake for about 20 minutes in an oven set to 450 degrees (F).
It’s that simple.
Vegetables For Overall Wellness
Today, there are a plethora of creative ways to create delicious, savory meals with your favorite veggies. You’ll reap the health benefits of these colorful, crunchy foods so do yourself a big favor and add them to your daily diet.
Filling up on the nutrients and vitamins you need doesn’t have to be a chore. Nor does eating a colorful meal have to result in too many calories.