Virtually every national reportabout diet and health recommends anincrease in fruit and vegetableconsumption to replace foods higherin calories and fat. Spurred by thesenutritional considerations, fruit andvegetable consumption continues toincrease. The consumer seeks freshor fresh-like produce that is visuallyappealing, full-flavored, nutritious,convenient to prepare and serve,pesticide-free and available yearround at a reasonable price.
The 1998 Dietary Guidelinesfor Americans recommend 3 - 5servings of various vegetablesdaily.
One cup of raw leafy greensor 1/2 cup of other vegetables iscounted as a serving. When choosingyour vegetables, keep the followingpoints in mind:At least every other day, have dark-green leafy vegetables, such as leaflettuce, romaine, spinach, or kale(not iceberg lettuce or green beans),and deep-yellow vegetables such assquash, carrots or sweet potatoes(not corn).•Eat dry beans and peas often.Count 1/2 cup of cooked dry beansor peas as a serving of vegetablesor as 1 ounce of the meat group.•Include starchy vegetables, such aspotatoes and corn.Vegetables are versatile, nutri-tious, colorful and flavorful. Vege-tables are naturally low in calories, fatand sodium and are good sources ofimportant vitamins, minerals anddietary fiber. Vegetables do notcontain cholesterol. Increasingvegetable consumption can replacefoods higher in calories and fat.Vegetables are
rich sources ofvitamins
, particularly A and C. Thevalue of a vegetable as a sourceof a nutrient is affected both by theamount of the nutrient present and bythe amount of the vegetable eaten.Thus, carrots, leafy green vegetablesand sweet potatoes are good sourcesof vitamin A because they contain alarge amount of vitamin A. Likewise,peppers and tomatoes are goodsources of vitamin C because of highconcentrations. On the other hand,potatoes, while lower in vitamin C,are also a good source of the nutrientbecause large amounts of potatoesare eaten. Other vegetables are goodsources of folic acid, niacin, thiaminand vitamin B-6. (See Table 1.)Vegetables are
relatively high inmineral content
, particularly potas-sium, magnesium, iron and calcium.However, the amount of theseminerals in vegetables is not always agood indicator of their nutritive valueto the person who eats them, sincesome of the minerals present may notbe available for the body to use. Theso-called bioavailability of a nutrientdepends on its form and also on thepresence of other substances whichmay bind or hold the mineral, keepingit from being used by the body.Vegetables are a
good source oftotal dietary fiber
and rich insoluble fiber
. Soluble fiber has beengenerally considered responsible formany of the beneficial effects ofvegetables in reducing cholesterol.
Why Eat Vegetables?Rate Your Vegetable Use:
•How many vegetables do I include daily in my diet?•Four ways I prepare vegetables are:•Six vegetables I frequently use in my home are:•If there is liquid left on my cooked vegetables, I: