Vegetables come in many different shapes and sizes, and their health benefits are well documented. You may not enjoy them all, but even if you have a few favorites, and include them regularly in some meals, you will be on your way to better health. The US Department of Agriculture recommends that you fill half of your plate at each meal with fruit or veggies-(or you can have half veggies and half fruit to equal half of the plate if you like.(1) Vegetables not only carry vitamins and often important minerals as well, but add another important component to a meal; fiber !!
As you may remember from previous articles, fiber works to aid digestion and help slow the absorption of sugars or refined carbohydrates to reduce blood sugar spikes. For example, if you are enjoying a meal with pasta or rice, and you add a full serving of non-starchy veggies, (about one cup of raw or 1/2c cooked ), your post- meal blood sugars will most likely be lower than it would if you didn’t add any veggies to your meal. Yes, nutrients and blood sugar benefits are part of why eating your vegetable are so important.
Veggies do vary in their carbohydrate content as well. It is important to understand this for meal balance. There are basically starchy and non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn, winter squashes, and edamame, for example ,all add fiber-but are higher in carb value than non-starchy veggies. US guidelines recommend 2.5 cups of vegetables daily for optimal health. (2)
Sometimes it can be difficult to find fresh vegetables; frozen or canned veggies are good substitutes, but frozen veggies are more desirable because they don’t have the added sodium. You can rinse the canned variety before cooking to remove some of the added salt.
Most vegetables are low in calories and fat and do not have cholesterol, which is another added benefit. Lastly, vegetables have been shown to be able to reduce the overall risk of heart attack and stroke, (3) as well as offer protection against certain types of cancers as well. (4)
Eating vegetables does not have to be boring, there are lots of ways to incorporate these tasty foods into your daily diet plan. Here are just a few:
1. Add veggies into your morning meal-If you haven’t tried eggs and spinach -you don’t know what you are missing. This excellent combo will power start your morning for sure. Spinach is packed with vitamins A,C and iron… and of course fiber!!
2. How about a smoothie as a meal? Blending veggies in with your daily protein powder makes a tasty balanced meal.
3. Instead of higher fat potato chips, consider slicing sweet potatoes into thin pieces and baking in the oven with some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 250 for 2 hours and Yum-Healthy chips to dip in some fresh pico de gallo or eat as a side dish.
Who said vegetables have to be boring?
Don’t forget that at TempraMed we are here to protect you and your insulin and to keep you safe.