Why vegetables are the real superfoods

The health benefits of vegetables are here to stay.

Written by Sharon Curtain
salad in jar

Is it possible that a miracle food exists that can boost our health, improve our energy levels, control our weight and help our skin glow? We’d love to believe it – so many of us buy powders, pills, lotions and potions, hoping that the farfetched claims we hear about the latest magic solution are true (regardless of how much evidence there really is.)

Yet no matter how expensive they are, these miracle cures more often than not disappoint us, and fail to perform as the antidote to our health woes.

But there is a superfood that will absolutely improve nearly all aspects of our health – and it’s been in our fridges the whole time. Your GP, the World Health Organization, the Heart Foundation and every public health body agree we need high doses of it.

Super health benefits

Just some of the impressively scientifically-backed health benefits of this wonder food include:

  • A vast range of bioactive nutrients, including antioxidants, potassium (beneficial for high blood pressure) and folate (for healthy blood cells).
  • Low kilojoule content – so you can pile up your plate, go back for seconds, and still maintain a healthy weight.
  • Full of fibre – essential for gut health and regularity.
  • Proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Could it be goji berries? Seaweed, or kale? Well, you’re heading down the right track. This incredible superfood that will positively benefit your health is vegetables.

Don’t stop reading. Yes, you’ve heard it before. “Vegetables are good for us” is old news. But maybe that’s why we’re too often forgetting about this inexpensive, readily available, health promoting group of foods.

"Try adjusting your portions so that vegetables are the main part of the meal."

5 easy ways to eat more vegetables

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 5 serves of vegetables each day. But for many of us, some common beliefs hold us back from getting there. If we can change some of these ideas, filling up on more veggies becomes almost effortless.

Here are a few tips to get started with.

1. Know how many serves you’re eating

Most of us make an effort to include vegetables at our main meal. But how many serves of vegetables do we really eat? Picture a room filled with 100 Australians. 8 of them are consuming the recommended number of serves of vegetables daily. Out of the 92 others, 35 get between 3 and 4 serves, but 57 get less than 2 serves daily.

2. Eat more veggies at lunch

A lot of popular lunch choices are largely carb and meat based – think spaghetti Bolognese, lasagna, pies, pizza, burgers, and even many takeaway curries and stir fries. If you can get more veggies into your lunch as well as dinner, reaching your five daily serves is suddenly much easier.

3. Learn to love salads

If the idea of lettuce leaves, grated carrot and a few slices of tomato sounds less than appealing, shake off the memories of your childhood and take a look at the modern day evolution of salads.

There are so many creative ways to make salads delicious and exciting. Quinoa, brown rice, goats cheese, beetroot, hazelnuts, pumpkin, haloumi, mixed leaves, watercress – and that’s just the beginning.

4. Move over, carbs

For many of us, carbohydrates are taking up too much room on our plates. Try adjusting your portions so that vegetables are the main part of the meal. Or, replace some of your carbs with veggie-based alternatives, like cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles.

5. Replace your potato

Yes, potato is a vegetable officially, but many argue it belongs in the carbohydrate group. The good news is, its cousin sweet potato offers much more nutrition for similar kilojoules, so change things up with sweet potato mash or sweet potato fries

References and more info

The Australian Dietary Guidelines

World Health Organization

Written by Sharon Curtain

Sharon Curtain is a dietitian with experience in hospital, community and industry settings and specialises in food industry process.

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