How To Eat More Vegetables: 18 Tricks from Nutritionists – The Healthy

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zucchini muffins in a pam

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Here’s how many servings of vegetables should you eat in a day

“I recommend a minimum of five per day,” advises Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Human Nutrition. This recommendation aligns with the American Heart Association’s guidance to aim for four to five servings of both fruits and vegetables daily, based on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet.

For reference, this translates to about two to three cups of vegetables each day.

Sherri Flynt, RD, a registered dietitian and regional outpatient nutrition manager at the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute, adds, “Of the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, you should aim for at least three of them to be non-starchy vegetables.” Non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, peppers, and broccoli, are emphasized because they are lower in calories and higher in essential nutrients and fiber than starchy vegetables like peas, corn, and potatoes.

Here’s what happens to your body when you start eating more vegetables

Scientific evidence continues to grow on the positive impacts of eating more vegetables. Emily Haller, RD, a registered dietitian and manager for diabetes education at AdventHealth, highlights a key benefit: “Eating more vegetables will increase your fiber intake, which helps slow the rate at which food empties out of your stomach.” This leads to a steadier energy supply, keeping your levels up until your next meal or snack.

Another significant benefit relates to gut health. Our gut houses trillions of microorganisms that are crucial to overall health. “Eating more vegetables provides these microorganisms with beneficial carbohydrates, phytochemicals, and fiber, keeping them happy and healthy,” notes Haller.

Vegetables also contribute to better skin health. While we often hear about sunscreen and lotions for protecting our skin from the outside, vegetables help keep our skin healthy from the inside due to their anti-inflammatory properties. “While eating more vegetables may not make wrinkles disappear, they can help minimize skin damage (inflammation) caused by smoking, too much sun, stress, and not getting enough sleep,” says Haller. Additionally, vegetables are a good source of water, aiding in hydration, which is essential for skin health.

Research indicates that eating vegetables may positively impact sleep. “One of the reasons may be the magnesium found in vegetables, as this has been associated with a calming effect which may help improve sleep. It may also be the calcium. Calcium is known to help the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin, and melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles,” explains Haller.

Ahead, we’ve consulted with nutritionists who’ve shared their top strategies for integrating more vegetables into meals, offering both on-the-go and creative solutions that you may not have considered before. (Because we love a good salad…but you can only eat so many of them each week, right?)

100% Lamb -Greek Meatball Platter with veggies mixed in

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How to eat more vegetables

Mix vegetables into meatballs or meatloaf

Meat lovers, we’ve got you. For anyone who’d find veggies more appealing if they were added to some good, filling animal protein, Zumpano has a suggestion: Puree vegetables or mince them finely and blend them into your meatball or meatloaf recipes. Some clever Italian parents add shredded carrot, zucchini or spinach to their beef for meatballs, which is a sneaky and delicious way to get little ones to eat their greens.

Zumpano offers additional ideas like mushroom and peppers, while cauliflower rice can work beautifully, too.

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