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More Veggies, Please: 10 New Health Facts

More Veggies, Please: 10 New Health Facts


  • For the most part, the US population does not meet intake recommendations for any vegetable subgroup.

  • 1. Establishing a Healthful Pattern: The healthy eating pattern prescribed in the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for consuming a variety of vegetables from 5 subgroups—1. dark green, 2. red and orange, 3. legumes, 4. starchy, and 5. other—including all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried options in cooked or raw forms.

  • 2. Packed with Nutrients: Vegetables are sources of dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, and choline. Recommended in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2000 calorie level is 2½ cup-equivalents of vegetables per day.

  • 3. Consumption Deficits in Kids: Vegetable consumption relative to recommendations is lowest among boys aged 9 to 13 years and girls aged 14 to 18 years. Intakes are slightly higher in adults but still below recommendations. For the most part, the US population does not meet intake recommendations for any vegetable subgroup.

  • 4. Green is Good: The CDC’s ranking of powerhouse fruits and vegetables—foods most strongly associated with reduced risk of chronic disease—is dominated by leafy green vegetables: 1. Watercress, 2. Chinese cabbage, 3. Chard, 4. Beet green, 5. Spinach, 6. Chicory, 7. Leaf lettuce, 8. Parsley, 9. Romaine lettuce, and 10. Collard green. Kale weighed in at #15, broccoli at #19.

  • 5. Hail, Kale: Kale has surged in popularity as a primary vegetable ingredient in raw or cooked form. Brassica vegetables such as kale are filled with micronutrients—antioxidants, carotenoids, glucosinolates, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Brassica greens are also known to contain folic acid, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and carotenes. Despite its gaining popularity, kale remains an understudied vegetable.

  • 6. Broccoli Fights Liver Cancer: Long-term consumption of whole broccoli countered both nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) development enhanced by a Western diet and hepatic tumorigenesis induced by diethylnitrosamine in male B6C3F1 mice. Without treatment, NAFLD may progress to hepatocellular carcinoma, a cancer with a high mortality rate.

  • 7. Spinach Suppresses Appetite: Overweight subjects consumed thylakoids from a spinach leaf extract in a study that assessed several aspects of appetite. A single 5-gm dose increased appetite satisfaction, with a greater increase in post-prandial blood sugar response. The findings might offer a tool in the campaign against overeating and help lower high blood pressure.

  • 8. Dietary Hot Potato: Average intakes of most nutrients by children aged 1 to 3 years exceeded Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), but potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D intakes were 67%, 55%, and 49% of DRIs, respectively. Total vegetable intake was less than the recommendation of 1 cup/d. Consumption of all vegetables is encouraged, especially excellent sources of potassium and dietary fiber like potatoes.

  • 9. Food Groups and Cardiometabolic Risk: In a study of dietary patterns in adults living with type 2 diabetes, 3 principal components explained 56.5% of total variance in diet: (1) fried foods, cakes, and ice cream; (2) fish and vegetables; and (3) pasta, potatoes, and breads. Most closely associated with cardiometabolic risk factors: the carbohydrate-based pattern.

  • 10. Trim Prices, Curb Cardiovascular Disease: Dietary patterns that would reduce vegetable and fruit prices by 10% through 2030 could lower the death rate from heart disease and stroke about 1%. Over a 15-year period, this would save more than 60,000 lives. A 30% price drop was modeled to be the most effective, diminishing the death rate by almost 3% and, over 15 years, saving about 200,000 lives.

The newly updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level. Vegetables, long known for the key role they play in healthy eating, figure prominently in the latest counsel for helping stem the tide of chronic diet-related diseases.

Click through the slides above for guideline highlights and recent research findings about the significant nutritional value in a variety of vegetables.

 

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