June 17th is Eat Your Vegetables Day! While this day only comes around once a year, eating vegetables should not be an annual occasion. In order to maintain good health and wellness, you must eat your vegetables every day.
While everybody knows that it’s important to eat vegetables, not everybody eats as many vegetables as they should. A weekly salad and a leaf of lettuce on your daily hamburger doesn’t cut it. Not only do you need multiple servings every single day, you also need a variety of vegetables.
The old standard was 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables across the board. If you were 5 years old you needed 5 servings of vegetables. If you were 50 years old you needed 5 servings of vegetables. However, the USDA has since changed the recommended serving amount to be less general. Factors like age, sex, and physical activity are now taken into account to determine how many vegetables you need every day.
For example, males between the ages of 14 and 50 who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day need 3 cups of vegetables. Females between the ages of 14 and 50, who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity each day need 2 1/2 cups of vegetables. Those who get more exercise may need more calories and more vegetables.
But it’s not just the amount of vegetables that matters: you need a variety. Different vegetables have different nutrients, and your body needs them all to be healthy. You can’t eat only kale or spinach. You need red and yellow vegetables and beans and peas as well. This chart shows the varieties and amounts of vegetables the USDA recommends each week.
A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with vegetables at every meal.
Vegetables are absolutely essential for you to stay healthy. According to the USDA, vegetables provide a number of health benefits including preventing the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and bone loss just to name a few.
So be sure to eat lots of vegetables for Eat Your Vegetables Day, but don’t treat it like a special occasion. Eat your vegetables every day!