According to the guidelines of MyPlate, half of our plate should be fruits and vegetables. However, we actually need more vegetables than fruits. Consuming a variety of vegetables is vital to obtaining essential nutrients.
Vegetables can be in a variety of forms, and different parts of the plant. Examples of the different parts are:
- Roots: carrot, beet, radish
- Stems: celery, asparagus
- Leaves: spinach, kale, cabbage
- Flowers: artichoke, cauliflower, broccoli
- Fruits: tomato, cucumber, zucchini
- Seeds: chickpeas, corn, black beans
Furthermore, vegetables are also classified into different groups based on their nutritional content. These groups are:
- Dark Green Vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, bok choy): good source of fiber, vitamin A, and calcium. Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy, while calcium keeps bones strong.
- Red and Orange Vegetables (butternut squash, red peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots): contain beta-carotene and folate. Beta-carotene keeps the immune system strong, folate is important for red blood cells and reduces the risk of birth defects.
- Beans and Peas (black beans, garbanzo beans, soy beans, lentils): rich in fiber, potassium, and protein. Fiber keeps the digestive systems functioning properly and helps us feel full.
- Starchy Vegetables (green peas, white potatoes, lima beans, corn): contain potassium. Potassium helps our body regulate blood pressure and maintain it at a healthy level.
- Other Vegetables ( artichokes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, cucumbers) .
Other Benefits of Vegetables:
- Vegetables are low in calories, which can help us lower our daily caloric intake.
- Vegetables have no cholesterol and are low in fat.
- A diet rich in vegetables can reduce the risk of many diseases and protect against some cancers.
Reading and understanding nutrition labels can help you:
- Make healthier eating choices
- Stick to one serving size
- Know what you are putting into your body
- Be aware of hidden ingredients
Typical nutrition label includes:
Serving size: this tells you what a serving size is supposed to be. It also tells you how many total servings there are in the container.
Amount of calories: amount given is per serving.
% DV: percent daily values. This is based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Limit These Nutrients: this area discusses fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
Get Enough of These: this section shares vitamins that are important for our diet.
Nutrition Label Tip Card: Nutrition Labels
Valley Churches United Missions first began as a response to the devastation that was caused by the rain, flooding and Love Creek mud slide of 1982. The program provided direct service aid and assistance to victims. From this, the organization started a food distribution site and permanent community pantry.
Since then, Valley Churches United Missions has moved to a new location in Ben Lomond and operates as a multiple service outreach agency. Programs include an emergency food pantry, senior low income food and voucher distributions, crisis rent or mortgage assistance, crisis utility assistance, crisis medical and dental assistance, education supplies, disaster relief, and special holiday projects for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. These projects fall under the organization’s mission to decrease hunger and homelessness and to provide hope for the less fortunate in the community.
With its “missions of love”, the organization is able to provide assistance to over 500 households each month in the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley. VCUM attributes much of its success and capacity to the many volunteers who have contributed countless hours over the years.
Choosing healthier foods and smaller portions are key to staying healthy. Making these changes can be difficult if we are not aware of the proper information. This month’s lesson will provide the proper tools to lead a healthier lifestyle.
The first step is to review the concept of a “portion” vs. a “serving size.” The amount of food that you choose to eat is called a “portion.” Each “portion” may change based on whether you are eating a snack or a meal. While we all require different amounts of food to fuel our bodies, we should pay attention to our portions and compare them to the recommended “serving sizes.”
By understanding serving sizes, we will be able to better determine what our portions should be. Remember that appropriate serving sizes help us get the right amount of nutrients and calories thus helping us maintain a healthy weight.
We can use everyday items to help us see what serving sizes should really look like.
For more information, please see our Bilingual Portion Control Tip Card PortionControl