How veggies (actually) benefit your health
Grandma was onto something. There are so many health benefits from including plenty of veggies in your diet. In a perfect world, we’re eating at least 5 servings of vegetables each day - with extra points for ‘eating the rainbow’.
The thing is most of us already know we should be eating more veggies to reap the many health benefits but actually getting the recommended five servings of veggies a day can be a bit of a struggle.
Luckily, you don’t need a personal chef nor do you have to start your own veggie patch to benefit from a few more servings of veggies in your daily diet.
But why exactly should you be going to the effort to eat enough veggies? What are the health benefits of eating your daily veggies?
Health benefits of eating plenty of veggies
According to a wealth of research summarised in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, eating plenty of veggies may
reduce your risk of long-term health conditions, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.
What’s more, getting your recommended daily intake of veggies may also help prevent weight gain.
If you need yet another reason to eat your veggies, research suggests that they may also improve your appearance, boosting your complexion.
Do some veggies have more benefits for you than others?
Are some veggies healthier for you than others? The short answer is no.
While we’re often told that some veggies are ‘superfoods’ while others are too ‘high in sugar’, the truth is that all veggies are healthy for you.
In fact, the best way to support your wellbeing is to eat a variety of different veggies each week to get all the benefits of this colourful food group.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying and eating the same veggies each time we go to the grocery store, which can make eating veggies feel, well... extra boring. Challenging yourself to add one new vegetable to your weekly shopping list may encourage you to include more diversity into your diet - while helping to avoid the dreaded food rut.
Devastatingly, potatoes found in deep-fried hot chips sadly don’t count as a serving of veggies as they are considered a ‘sometimes’ food. Luckily, there are plenty of other options. Try slicing potatoes into wedges and roasting in the oven with your favourite seasoning for a healthier chippie fix or chop in a bunch of washed, unpeeled potatoes to boost your next casserole or roast dinner.
We can all benefit from eating more veggies. Having just one serve of spinach per week, two serves of tomato or eating more cruciferous vegetables - think broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and kale, have improved outcomes for and benefits to, health.
5 tips to help you eat (and enjoy) veggies!
A few simple swaps can help you get more excited about vegetables so you can reap those health benefits!
1. Spice it up
We’re the first to admit it. Veggies can be a bit boring if they aren’t jazzed up with some seasonings or spice. Try adding vegetable seasoning or a lemon herb and garlic spice mix to literally spice up your veggies.
Grilled, BBQ or slow-roasted vegetables can help transform humble (ahem: boring) vegetables into tasty additions to your meal.
Also, keep in mind that boiling vegetables may cause some nutrient loss so rather opt for steaming or stir-frying.
2. Get a little sneaky
You have to trust us on this one; if you add frozen cauliflower or frozen peeled zucchini to a smoothie, you can’t even taste them. And while mushrooms aren’t technically a vegetable (they’re a fungi), they contribute to your daily veggie intake.
Blend mushrooms before adding to a bolognese for some additional sneaky vegetables that you’ll hardly notice are there.
3. Don’t skimp on salad dressings
Let’s be honest. Salad dressing is perhaps the main reason we’re happy to chow into a bowl of leafy greens.
Skipping the salad dressing might leave you with a sad salad, which you might be able to convince yourself to eat for a few days - but it’s not a recipe for consistently healthier eating habits.
While it’s true that salad dressing might contain a bit of added sugar, salt and fat, you don’t need much to add plenty of flavour. And if eating a tablespoon of dressing helps you eat an entire bowl of leafy greens, then we think it’s a healthy compromise.
4. Let the veggies inspire your meal
Most often, we work out what’s for dinner by starting with the protein or meat we want to cook. Roast chicken makes root vegetables a natural pick while chicken strips might make us think of stir-fry.
Why not try centering your meal around the veggies first, choosing proteins or wholegrains that pair well with your chosen veg. If pumpkin is in season, perhaps it could inspire you to make a comforting soup with barley. Found beautiful looking brussel sprouts? Combine them with a piece of fish and a salad for a perfect meal.
5. Outsource chopping
One of the biggest barriers to eating more veggies may be due to this simple thing; chopping vegetables sucks. It can be time-consuming, boring and repetitive.
There are some easy ways to cut through this problem. Buying pre-cut vegetables can be a real time-saver. Try ready-to-use bags of coleslaw or pre-cut stir-fry mixes. Investing in a v-slicer (also known as a mandoline) can make slicing faster.
Adding different attachments to the slicer (like a crinkle cut) may also encourage little kids to try new veggies they previously discounted.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board August 3, 2021