Parents need veggies just as much as kids do. Not only is it important to lead by example, vegetables contain dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that promote health as we age and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Get Energized with Veggies
Whether it’s for powering through a workout, rounding up the kids to get to school on time or accomplishing a big work project, our lives demand a lot of energy. Carbohydrate rich vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn provide more calories than non-starchy vegetables.
Get the Most Nutrition from Veggies
Even though vegetables are a great source of nutrients, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamin and folate can be destroyed by exposure to high temperatures and long cooking times, or lost when cooking water is discarded. To keep the vitamins in your vegetables from escaping:
- Leave edible skins on vegetables or trim as little as possible, but be sure to wash them first.
- Steam, microwave or stir-fry vegetables instead of boiling to reduce the amount of water and heat they are exposed to.
- Cooler temperatures help preserve vitamins, so it is recommended that some produce be stored in the refrigerator.
Looking for veggies high in antioxidants? Include a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups – dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, as well as starchy ones. Try asparagus, beets, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Want the best vitamin C bang for your bite? Try fresh, chopped red bell peppers or cooked broccoli. Just 1 cup of either veggie exceeds your daily minimum requirements of this vitamin.
How Much Do You Need?
Adult men should consume 2 ½ to 3 cups of veggies daily, but many fall short. Aim to include veggies at most meals and snacks during the day. Try a variety of vegetables and experiment with different preparation methods, such as roasting, grilling and steaming. Try veggies such as roasted red peppers and sautéed mushrooms as sandwich fillings and burger toppings. You easily can add ½ cup of vegetables to a sandwich. Using raw spinach in salads is another way to pump up the vitamin content.
Think Food First
Multivitamins are supplements, not substitutes for whole foods and vegetables. Important phytonutrients (such as antioxidants) and dietary fiber are two components of vegetables that make them irreplaceable by a pill. Besides, a grilled ear of corn tastes so much better!
Source: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
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