Eating vegetables provides health benefits – people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
- Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, and/or cholesterol.)
- Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
- Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
- Dietary fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
- Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
- Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
- Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
- Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
- Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
|Amount that counts as 1 ounce equivalent in the Protein Foods Group||Common portions and ounce equivalents|
|Meats||1 ounce cooked lean beef
1 ounce cooked lean pork or ham
|1 small steak (eye of round, filet) = 3/12 to 4 ounce equivalents
1 small lean hamburger = 2 to 3 ounce equivalents
|Poultry||1 ounce cooked chicken or turkey, without skin
1 sandwich slice of turkey (4 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1/8″)
|1 small chicken breast half = 3 ounce equivalents
1/2 Cornish game hen = 4 ounce equivalents
|Seafood||1 ounce cooked fish or shell fish||1 can of tuna, drained = 3 to 4 ounce equivalents
1 salmon steak = 4 to 6 ounce equivalents
1 small trout = 3 ounce equivalents
|Eggs||1 egg||3 egg whites = 2 ounce equivalents
3 egg yolks = 1 ounce equivalent
|Nuts and seeds||1/2 ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves)
1/2 ounce of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, or squash seeds, hulled, roasted)
1 Tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter
|1 ounce of nuts of seeds = 2 ounce equivalents|
|Beans and peas||1/4 cup of cooked beans (such as black, kidney, pinto, or white beans)
1/4 cup of cooked peas (such as chickpeas, cowpeas, lentils, or split peas)
1/4 cup of baked beans, refried beans1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) of tofu
1 oz tempeh, cooked
1/4 cup roasted soybeans 1 falafel patty (2 1/4″, 4 oz)
2 Tablespoons hummus
|1 cup split pea soup = 2 ounce equivalents
1 cup lentil soup = 2 ounce equivalents
1 cup bean soup = 2 ounce equivalents1 soy or bean burger patty = 2 ounce equivalents