Are You Consuming Enough Vegetables?

Everyone knows vegetables are healthy, but are you sure you're eating enough? New research recommends we eat seven portions of fruits and vegetables per day, which is a greater amount than the old five-servings-per-day rule. In fact, the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less likely you'll be to develop fatal illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Choose Vegetables Over Fruit

Although fruit offers unmistakable nutrients, studies show that you're better off reaching for a fresh vegetable. The University College London (UCL) observed the eating habits of people over a 12-year period and found that veggies had significantly higher health benefits than fruit.

In fact, ccording to the UCL study, eating vegetables daily reduces your risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses by 16 percent. Fruit consumption also offers benefits at a 12-percent rate. Before this study, no other study has linked vegetable and fruit consumption with a reduction in overall death from heart disease and cancer.

How to Get More Vegetables in Your Diet

Eating the recommended amount of seven servings of fresh vegetable daily seems excessive, but not if you add veggies to every meal. For example, toss kale or spinach into chili or soup. Puree carrots and add them to pasta dishes.

You can also switch out heavy carbohydrates and starches for vegetables. Make pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, or swap out potato chips for sliced and baked sweet potatoes or parsnips. Try making spaghetti with spaghetti squash instead of pasta. If you simply can't give up your favorite pasta dishes, simply add a couple of servings of vegetables to the sauce.

The key is to get away from the bland meat-and-potatoes meal and opt for a colorful plate loaded with balanced nutrition. The more color you have on your plate, the more essential minerals and vitamins you're ingesting.

Signs You're Not Eating Enough Vegetables

There are some common signs most people experience when they fail to eat an adequate amount of vegetables. You may:

  • • Feel tired all the time.
  • • Bruise easily.
  • • Experience lingering colds.
  • • Have a foggy memory.
  • • Have problems handling stress.
  • • Be prone to muscle cramps.
  • • Have difficulty losing weight.

Adding the right amount of vegetables to your diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to thrive, helping you ward off illnesses and live a more active lifestyle.

One of the biggest indicators that you can't get enough vegetables is problems with your heart. Heart disease is nothing to take lightly, so if you've been diagnosed with heart problems or heart disease runs in your family, eating a large number of vegetables is crucial.

In fact, research shows that children who only eat a small number of vegetables are more likely to develop heart problems in adulthood. Starting your children on a diet high in fruits and vegetables is just as important as eating enough nutrient-dense foods yourself.

Protect your health by piling on the vegetables at every meal. Whether you have to hide pureed veggies in your recipes or eat them whole, you're doing your body a huge favor.