March is National Nutrition Month—a perfect time to discuss one of the healthiest food groups you can consume—veggies! Vegetables are low in calories, high in vitamins, and high in antioxidants. Each time you eat a meal, you should make sure at least half of your plate is fruit and vegetables. Turn to veggies for snacks too.
To truly reap health benefits from veggies, your goal should be to make sure that you consume veggies from each of the five sub-groups of veggies every week. In this entry, I discuss each group and some ideas of how to eat the veggies within each particular group and the amount of veggies women and men should consume from each sub-group every week.
Dark Green Veggies
Broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, chard, and Brussels sprouts are some of the vegetables in this group. Kale is probably one of my favorites. I like it sautéed, in salads, and it’s great in soup too. Check out my delicious strawberry kale recipe on my website . Women should aim for at least 1.5 cups of veggies from this group every week and men should aim for two cups.
Red and Orange Vegetables
Veggies in this group include red and orange peppers, tomatoes and carrots, as well as beets and red onions. I love adding red onions to salads. Peppers and onions are yummy in omelets. And you can’t go wrong dipping carrots, grape tomatoes, and peppers in hummus. Women should aim for 5.5 cups of veggies from this group every week and men should aim for six cups.
Beans and Peas
Think of all the different type of beans there are: black, green, pinto, kidney, chickpeas, and more. These have more fiber and protein than veggies from the other groups as do peas. You’ll love the bean salad recipe on my website. Women should aim for 1.5 cups of veggies from this group and men should aim for two.
The main starch veggies are your potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes. These guys get a bad rap, but they’re filled with lots of important vitamins and minerals. I sometimes bake a sweet potato for a snack—naturally sweet and delicious! Women should aim for five cups from this group and men should aim for six. I know that sounds like a lot, but over the course of the week, it really isn’t.
Think of other veggies you might eat—cucumbers, celery, onions, etc. Women should consume around four cups of other veggies and men should consume five.
These recommendations come from MyPlate. I generally agree with these, but I do think it’s okay to eat more from the dark green veggie group and less from one of the other groups. As long as you eat a lot of veggies and a good variety, you’ll be insuring good health for the long run and that’s a wonderful thing!