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Eat those greens: Key ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet

Too few people are eating sufficient levels of vegetables. A leading nutritionist provides readers with advice around improving one’s diet.

Tasty vegetables cooked to be firm to the bite. - Tim Sandle
Tasty vegetables cooked to be firm to the bite. - Tim Sandle

Many people will have heard the same lines when growing up: “Eat your vegetables”. Many nutritionists repeat this mantra today. While this may seem like a simple undertaking, it can often be challenging.

For the U.S., research has shown that nearly 90 percent of people do not eat the recommended 2 – 3 cups of vegetables per day. Many view vegetables as bland, boring and, quite frankly, unappetizing.

The amount of vegetables you need to eat depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity. However, vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, and variety is as important as quantity.

With June 17th being National Eat Your Vegetables Day (an event in the U.S.), Dr. Vikki Petersen, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, tells Digital Journal about the health benefits of vegetables and how they are a crucial staple for any diet.

She explains: “Vegetables, especially those from the crucifer family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage) and allium family (garlic, onions, leeks, green onions, shallots, red onion) are incredibly rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. It is hard to overestimate the importance of including a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables into your diet per day.”

Dr. Vikki Petersen provides four important ways to incorporate more vegetables into a diet, for Digital Journal.

Tip #1: Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to start your day with an easy 2 servings of vegetables. Baby spinach or baby kale are an easy addition of potent vegetables that when combined with a non-dairy milk, frozen fruit and a nut butter, are “hidden” from your tastebuds while still providing incredible health benefits.

Tip #2: Sauces

Broccoli, cauliflower, and finely chopped kale are easily added to tomato sauce that can be poured over pasta or as part of a curry. A light steam or saute after cutting your veggies into small pieces will make them all but undetectable in your pasta or curry meal.

Tip #3: Flavoring

Onions and garlic (the allium family) are great flavor enhancers that, when sauteed at the beginning of meal prep, enhance flavor beautifully while providing incredible health benefits. The key is to chop them finely and saute thoroughly.

Tip #4: Salads

Salads can be fun and very rich in vegetables. A healthy lettuce like arugula is a nice base, but add finely sliced red cabbage, green onions (or sauteed red onions), sliced carrots, some baby kale, ripe tomatoes and avocado, and you have a satisfying meal that provides easily 3 to 4 servings of vegetables. Top with some ground flax, toasted almonds or hemp seeds to boost protein and fat content.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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