Vegetables are powerful medicines that reduce your risk of dying from many diseases (1) and can help you lose weight. Try and eat 5-10 portions daily.
Vegetables are natural effective medicines
Vegetables are one of the most important medicines you can take daily. Increasing the amount you eat is a simple change that can alter your risk of many of the most dangerous lifestyle diseases we face today. They are arguably more important for our health than many modern medications and drugs.
5-10 portions a day reduce your risk of dying early
It is important to eat as many whole vegetables and fruit (but watch the amount of sugar in many fruits) as you can. Many studies suggest either half the plate or up to 13 portions (2) of fruit and vegetables a day give you the most health benefit. We would suggest that as many of those portions as possible are vegetables (minimum 5 per day) and try to eat a rainbow to give you a wide range of the beneficial phytochemicals (plant nutrients) which give you the maximum health benefits (3).
What is a portion of vegetables? Generally a portion is considered 3-4 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables or 1 onion or sweet potato. If salad a 5cm piece of cucumber, medium tomato (or 7 cherry tomatoes), 1/2 a pepper or 1/3 of an avocado all count as portions. Vegetable juice can only ever be counted as 1 portion no matter how many are in your juice as you loose some of the fibre benefits.
You reduce the risk of many diseases including cancer
By increasing your number of vegetables you reduce your risk of the top killers including heart disease and cancer. They also reduce the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and help your brain work better and your body to age better (1) (3).
Vegetables reduce inflammation in your body
Inflammation occurs with the production of inflammatory chemicals by your immune system which long-term can cause disease. These chemicals are produced when we need to heal (short-term) but sometimes this reaction becomes faulty and we produce these chemicals in large amounts long-term (chronic inflammation). This is a factor in many diseases like autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease and joint pain. Vegetables in your diet can play a big role in reducing inflammation (4).
They can also help you lose weight
People who eat large amounts of vegetables lose more weight when dieting and feel less hungry (5). Regularly eating more servings of vegetables is also shown to be an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight (6).
Eat organic for more nutrients
Organic fruit and vegetables contain more antioxidants equivalent to you eating an extra 1-2 portions a day by eating organic. They also have much lower pesticide levels and much lower levels of dangerous toxins like cadmium (7). Read more about why you should eat organic here.
Supercharge your plate with as many as you can! and for fussy eaters and to get your kids to eat more vegetables see our article on How To Get Your Child To Eat Vegetables.
QUICK TIPS TO HELP YOU EAT MORE VEG
Order a weekly organic vegetable box – This helps you eat seasonally and takes out the toxins, you can often find local suppliers by visiting local farmers markets but nationwide services like Riverford and Abel & Cole are a good option.
Eat a rainbow – Different coloured vegetables have different phytochemicals (plant nutrients) with different health benefits. Try and eat a range of different colours, which also makes them more exciting for kids on the plate.
Make them into veggie burgers! – To help fussy kids (and adults!), blend a mixture of vegetables and onion with peanuts, macadamias or cashews and coconut oil in a food processor and coat in rice flour before frying as a tasty veggie burger.
Juice your vegetables – Make a tasty juice with blends like beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger or cucumber, spinach and apple. Try to stick to apples to sweeten juices in order to keep the sugar content down and consider a masticating juicer for best nutrient preservation.
Steam your veg – A simple pan steamer can sit over a pan with an inch of boiling water in and will cook several portions of chopped vegetables in 8-10 minutes (don’t use a microwave as this destroys some of the nutrients). We like to cook broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus and peas this way, truly delicious and great with some organic (or raw) butter on.