Are you getting your “nine-a-day?” That’s how many servings of fruits and vegetables the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Cancer Institute recommends to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables, has other health benefits as well. Veggies are one of the best weight control foods there are. Here’s why it’s a good idea to eat more veggies if you’re trying to shed extra pounds.
Health Benefits of Vegetables: Veggies Are High-Volume Foods
Vegetables are high in volume and low in calories. That means you can eat lots of veggies without adding to your “bottom line.” For example, a cup of broccoli has only 30 calories. Compare that to the 220 calories in a cup of more calorie-dense pasta. Then consider the nutritional benefits of broccoli versus pasta. Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants and other naturally, cancer-fighting chemicals that help you stay healthy. You can’t say the same for pasta. An effective strategy for losing weight and staying full while doing so is to replace some of the pasta, rice and potatoes you’re currently eating with veggies. Getting your nine-a-day will pay off with other health benefits as well.
Veggies Are High in Fiber
High-fiber vegetables take longer to move through your digestive tract than processed carbs and foods that contain less fiber. That means you’ll be satiated more quickly when you munch out on veggies. Several studies support the weight-control benefits of fiber. One study found that women who ate diets high in fiber and low in fat were less likely to gain weight over time than those who ate a less fiber-rich diet. Fiber also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL-cholesterol and may reduce the risk of colon cancer too. Most people don’t get adequate amounts of fiber in their diet and veggies are one of the best sources.
Benefits of Vegetables: Vegetables Help to Stabilize Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Because vegetables are high in fiber, they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This reduces blood sugar and insulin spikes that contribute to fat storage. It also prevents drops in blood sugar that can trigger carb cravings. When you focus less on processed carbohydrates and more on veggies and lean protein, your energy levels will stay more stable throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to crave the wrong foods.
Find Ways to Boost Your Veggie Consumption
You may not be able to fit in nine-a-day every day, but find ways to increase the amount of vegetables you eat every day. Instead of snacking on a bag of chips, keep a bowl of chopped vegetables and a healthy dip like hummus or salsa in easy reach. If you have to have chips, make kale chips in the oven for a “better-for-you” crunch.
When you’re trying to control your calorie intake, start dinner with a bowl of vegetable soup. It’s the ultimate high-volume, high-fiber appetite satiating food that’ll reduce the number of calories you eat when the main course arrives. Munch on a large garden salad with an array of color vegetables before a meal for added antioxidants and appetite control.
Replace starchy sides with veggies ones. You’ll save calories and get more blood-sugar controlling fiber. Stay motivated to eat vegetables by trying a new one each week. Have you tried purple cauliflower, broccolini or Bok Choy? If not, give them a try.
The Bottom Line?
Vegetables are one of your strongest allies when it comes to controlling your weight and staying healthy. Eat them fresh or frozen – but eat them often.
MedicineNet. “Why You Need More Fiber”
National Cancer Institute. “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption”