Those in the know encourage us to aim for 5 serves a day. Why five? Because you can harvest incredible health benefits from vegetables and lower your risk of serious health problems.
As the folks at Nutrition Australia explain, vegetables:
Keep eyes healthy.
Avoid serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma and poor night vision, by getting a wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in fruit and vegetables.
Prevent skin infections and diseases.
Get your dose of wound healing ingredients Vitamin C, antioxidants and zinc by regularly consuming a wide range of colourful vegetables. Raw vegetables will have slightly more vitamin C than when cooked and while vegetables are not a great source of zinc, legumes (think chickpeas) and lentils which fall into the ‘vegetable’ category supply a good amount of zinc.
Help maintain blood pressure.
Regularly having 4-5 serves of vegetables a day increases intake of potassium, magnesium and fibre which is linked to lower blood pressure, but more importantly an overall dietary pattern as seen in the DASH diet will help reduce blood pressure.
Prevent blood sugar spikes.
Vegetables with high carbohydrates and a high glycemic index (GI) can increase or cause blood sugar spikes when eaten in large amounts; this includes most white potatoes and purple sweet potato. Orange sweet potato (with skin) and corn are lower in GI and can be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Other starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, peas, parsnip broad beans and beetroot rarely increase blood glucose unless eaten in amount larger than 200 grams.
Improve digestive health.
The high fibre in veggies helps move food through our digestive system to help us avoid digestive disorders like constipation and haemorrhoids.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Most vegetables are low in kilojoules, high in vitamins and minerals and fibre making them a great alternative for snacking while keeping you fuller for longer and less likely to reach for the less nutritious alternatives.
Lower your risk of heart disease and some kinds of cancers.
The wide range of plant chemicals, antioxidants and fibre in vegetables makes them a power house of protection against many chronic diseases and some cancers. No need to get caught up in which ones, or what chemicals; by eating at least 5 serves a day and including a variety of types, colours and cooking styles over the week you will have it covered.
You might think you don’t like a certain vegetable, but maybe you just haven’t prepared it the right way yet! Case in point, your taste buds might be offended by raw kale, but baked in the oven with a little olive oil? It’ll be your new go-to snack.
Looking for veggie-rich recipes to add to your weekly meal roster?
Try these delicious go-to's from Inspiro’s team:
- Zucchini Soup
- Hearty tomato and vegetable soup
- Salmon and sweet potato patties
- Healthy burrito bowls
- Crunchy Kale Chips
- Spanish Baked Eggs
Inspiro’s smart shopping tips
Stock up on in-season vegetables.
Vegetables that are in season in your local area cost less and almost always taste better because they’re usually fresher than those that are shipped from far away.
Look for healthy vegetable-based frozen meals.
Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to cook. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Stock up on healthy vegetable-rich frozen meals to make sure you still get the nutrients you need.
Don’t dismiss frozen vegetables.
They’re just as healthy as the fresh ones and often cheaper too.
Watch this video for more smart shopping tips: