If you’re looking to get lean, strong, and healthy, you’ll probably want to make eating a ton of vegetables every day a staple habit in your routine.
Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, offering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that help promote detoxification, stimulate the immune system, reduce platelet aggregation, modulate cholesterol synthesis and hormone metabolism, reduce blood pressure, and have antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral effects (1).
Higher vegetable intake is associated with lower risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cognitive decline, stroke, dementia, and various cancers (2).
Vegetables may also be a powerful tool for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, particularly non-starchy vegetables that are low in energy, high in fiber and water, and satiating (3).
Examples of nutrient-dense non-starchy vegetables are kale, Swiss chard, spinach, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, and tomatoes (4).
Vegetables are often grouped according to their colors, although this approach might not accurately reflect or account for their actual nutrient content; for example, both dark leafy greens and bright orange vegetables offer carotenoids (5).
While we’re often told variety is important, total vegetable consumption appears to be more important toward reducing risk of mortality than vegetable variety (6).
That said, increasing the variety of vegetables in your diet may be an effective strategy for increasing your total vegetable intake (7).
Consider aiming for seven or eight fist-sized servings – roughly 600 grams or 1.5 lbs. – of vegetables per day.
This appears to be the amount at which the marginal benefits of eating more vegetables start to plateau (8).
From there, have fun and experiment.
Explore different cooking methods, seasonings, varieties, and quantities.
You may prefer your vegetables cooked soft, crispy, or raw.
Salted, seasoned, tossed in fat, or plain.
Roasted, steamed, or pan-fried.
Start where you are.
Do what you can.
Find what works best for you.
You’ve got this.