It’s estimated that less than 25 percent of Americans eat three servings of veggies daily, and the ones eaten aren’t always necessarily the best. For example, it’s difficult to put lettuce and broccoli in the same category, since broccoli and other dark leafy green vegetables are much more dense in nutrients.
Vegetables are delicious when prepared properly, and can reduce obesity, disease and help solve most of our health and lifestyle problems. That’s why it’s pivotal that we incorporate vegetables into every meal. Here are key reasons to keep vegetables on your menu.
Vegetables are extremely low in calories, and typically a cup averages 50 calories, with many vegetables like leafy greens scoring lower. In contrast, a cup of nuts or seeds can average 750 calories, and a cup of rice or pasta is near to 200.
In addition, the body uses most of the energy provided to chew and digest vegetables. Veggies are high in fiber and carbohydrates that can’t be digested. They are more filling than refined carbs that spike blood sugar due to a fast digestion pattern.
2. They’re a free-for-all food
It’s difficult enough to be mindful of portion size when you want to be lean and healthy. Mostly we want to eat until we feel full instead of having to worry about calories. Green vegetables are great for this because they contain a very minimal caloric load and are packed with nutrients that improve energy metabolism in the body. Veggies also require a lot of chewing, which is known to increase the release of hormones that make you feel satisfied.
3. Raise energy Levels
Vegetables are packed with antioxidants that support mitochondrial health, which is important for anyone on a high-protein diet. In biology, we learn that mitochondria turns energy from food into ATP to fuel cellular activity.
The byproducts of this process are free radicals, which damage other cells and accelerate aging. The antioxidants in veggies and fruits help the body to eradicate these free radicals.
4. Fight inflammation
A benefit of nutrient-rich plants is that they will fight oxidative stress that builds up and causes inflammation. Where does this stress come from?
Everything from hard training, to lack of sleep, processed food diets, or foods rich in protein. Studies have found that although people who ate more protein had more lean muscle mass, they also had more oxidative stress than people who had less muscle and higher body fat percentages.
This is why it is important for people who eat diets rich in protein to eat more fruits and vegetables because this will raise blood antioxidant capacity and reduce inflammation.
5. A Healthier Gut
Veggies have several benefits in terms of having easy digestion and a healthy gut:
- They’re more than 75 percent water, which is key for optimal bowel function
- They are packed with fiber, which helps to flush out waste and gastric irritants
- They contain prebiotics, which are indigestible carbs that feed the healthy bacteria in the gut
- They encourage better chewing, which is critical because when large particles of protein foods reach the gut, they feed harmful gut bacteria that produce inflammation.
6. Improve estrogen metabolism
An easy way to get protection from excess estrogen is to eat cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli every day. Too much estrogen, either due to hormonal imbalances or from exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen, increases cancer risk of cancer and causes a number of side effects, including difficulty losing body fat.
7. Stronger bones
It’s a common mistake to believe that dairy is the best food for protecting bones. Vegetables are far superior due to their high nutrient and antioxidant load and the fact that they are very alkalising.
For bone health, you need a variety of different nutrients, but what most people are lacking isn’t calcium. It’s vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium all of which are provided in vegetables. Vitamin D is also necessary, and this is best gained from sun exposure or a supplement.
In addition, vegetables help to improve the body’s pH and alkalise the body, which is key when the diet is more acidic, due to grains, dairy, and animal products.
8. Reduce stress
Vegetables provide an array of vitamins and minerals that the body cannot synthesise, and many of these nutrients can help shield you from stress.
This is huge when it comes to fat loss, since stress alters hormones that make you more likely to overeat. Stress is extremely detrimental towards a person’s health since it increases disease risk by raising inflammation in the body which can lead to cell damage, plaque buildup in the arteries, and insulin resistance.
For example, magnesium and vitamin C are two nutrients that are quickly depleted during stressful times. Magnesium will calm the central nervous system, conveying a calming effect that makes you more resilient and improves sleep. Vitamin C supports immunity and aids the body in metabolising the stress hormone cortisol.
9. Detox daily
We should all understand and realise that detoxification isn’t a once off thing. It’s something that should happen every day as the body metabolises and eliminates waste products. Vegetables are key to help us detox daily.
Besides all the good vegetables does for your gut, they also provide nutrients that stimulate liver function and help the body eliminate both foreign compounds like pesticides and excess hormones.
10. Convenient and natural
Forget about the natural/healthy/high-fiber claims from packaged food. Vegetables bring back value to these meaningless terms.
Not only does eating veggies take you back to nature, veggies are always available and nutritious, whether it be frozen, fresh, dried, preserved or even canned. Veggies can be a quick versatile snack and your go-to meal staple.
11. Kickstart other healthy habits
Eating vegetables at every meal is the perfect way to kickstart other healthy behaviours. Studies find that people who eat more fruits and vegetables and less high-fat foods had better executive function that can promote skill development and growth. In particular, better executive function was thought to be pivotal in promoting long-term weight loss in subjects.
12. Stabilise blood sugar
Being low in sugar and high in fiber, vegetables are the perfect food for balancing blood sugar. It takes time to break down the cellulose fibers in vegetables, leading to a very slow release of sugar into the bloodstream for steady energy.
In addition, the antioxidants vegetables contain have been found to reduce the effect of refined carbs on blood sugar and insulin response. Simply adding a side of leafy greens topped with vinegar or sauteed in coconut oil will reduce insulin response of bread or pasta.