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.