We’ll admit it. We don’t eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. Between hectic schedules, rushed mealtimes, and our darn chocolate cravings, veggies sometimes just don’t fit into the equation. To motivate ourselves and our readers to eat more veggies, we’ve compiled a list the health benefits that come from consuming more veggies on the daily.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 states that, “The recommended amount of vegetables in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 2½ cup-equivalents of vegetables per day.” These veggies should include dark greens, legumes, red and orange veggies, and starchy veggies, consumed either fresh, canned, dried, or frozen. But, of course, eating more than the recommended amount is incredibly beneficial.
So what can happen if you add more veggies into your diet?
1Your digestive system will thank you.
Vegetables are high in fiber, which means your digestive system will work more efficiently and regularly when your vegetable intake increases. But keep in mind, as your dietary fiber intake increases, your water intake will also have to increase to make sure your body doesn’t become constipated.
If you’re looking to improve bowel function, slowly introduce more vegetables into your diet rather than jumping straight into an all-veg diet. Doing so might cause diarrhea as your body is finding it hard to adjust to your new routine.
2You could live longer.
According to CBS News, researchers at Imperial College London found that eating more than five servings of veggies and fruit per day can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and early death. What’s more is that researchers concluded that if everyone were to eat 10 servings of fruit and veggies per day (that’s equal to 800 grams or 20 ounces), 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented.
Researchers say that eating green, leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce and chicory) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) may all help in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, and early death.
3Your skin will look better than ever.
Forget the face masks and specialty creams! CNN reported in 2014 that eating more vegetables can enhance your skin’s texture and appearance. Phytonutrients, vitamin C, and high water content hydrate the skin and reduce wrinkles.
Phytonutrients can even act as an all-natural anti-aging method by preventing cell damage from stress, sun, and environmental toxins. Red and orange veggies are the best for better skin because of their beta carotene content that protects the skin from sun damage.
4You won’t get sick as often.
The USDA’s Choose My Plate website states that Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and can protect your body from infections. Sweet potato, carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomato, and watermelon are all packed with Vitamin A.
Eating veggies packed with Vitamin C aid your body to heal wounds and maintain gum health. You’ve heard your dentist say it before — keeping your gums healthy is key to keeping your overall body in tip-top shape.
5You won’t feel as stressed.
When we think of comfort foods, we think of creamy mac and cheese, hearty chicken noodle soup, warm chocolate cake, and sweet, sweet ice cream — sorry for the junk food distraction. In actuality, vegetables are more effective comfort foods than any of the above.
According to Dr. Mercola of the Mercola “Take Control of Your Health” site, eating vegetables when you’re stressed can help replenish lost magnesium and Vitamin C, which we can lose while stressing out. Veggies also give you omega-3 fats and Vitamin B, both proven to reduce anxiety and depression.
6If you’re pregnant, more veggies will help ensure a healthy baby.
Women trying to get pregnant or who are in their first trimester of pregnancy need to consume a good deal of folic acid, which can be found in legumes, avocados, dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus, as well as citrus fruits and juices.
The folic acid helps the body to produce more red blood cells, which in turn reduces the risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida during fetal development.
When you really weigh the pros and cons of eating more veggies, you’ll realize there really aren’t many cons to contend with. Vegetables are so good for your body and mind, and although they may not always feel like the most exciting things to eat, your body will definitely thank you!