The more vegetables you eat, the greater you reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, cancer, and premature death. Adults should be eating somewhere between four and six servings (3 and 6 cups) of green leafy and colorful vegetables every day.
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants as well as terpenes and flavonoids which are substances found throughout nature that give plants their medicinal and aromatic benefits. Not only do they decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, they also have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Certain terpenes and flavanoids have calming and mood elevating effects, while others are antimicrobial and muscle relaxants.
Research done at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London suggests that while five servings of fruit and vegetables is good, ten 4 oz servings a day is better. It is important to eat whole food because vitamins and supplements for the most part, are not able to reduce risk of disease.
Don’t wait until the end of the day to try to get all those servings in. Incorporate them into your meals and snacks, starting with breakfast. I like to sauté fresh organic kale, spinach, rainbow chard, onions, garlic, and mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil, with seasoning to taste. For added protein, I top the mixture with an egg from local pastured hens. So with breakfast alone, you’ve had 2-3 servings. Add a serving of berries or melon and you are even closer to your daily goal. A large salad at lunch and you’ve added another 2-3 servings. With a couple of pieces of fruit during the day for snacks – an apple or banana, or 1/2 C. of berries or pineapple, that leaves only a 3-4 servings needed at dinner.
I don’t believe there is any such thing as a bad vegetable, but some of the healthiest and most beneficial are:
green leafy: watercress, kale, spinach, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, parsley, mustards, turnips
cruciferous: brussel sprouts, broccoli, rabi, cauliflower, green and red cabbage
roots: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips
bell peppers: red, yellow, green, orange
legumes: lima beans, peas, lentils, garbanzos, black eyed peas
alliums: scallions, garlic, leeks, shallots
others: artichokes, asparagus
So make an effort to get those vegetables in every day. You will feel better and live longer!