What are the benefits of vegetables in a healthy eating pattern?
Including vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well stroke and cancer. USDA's MyPlate includes all vegetables and 100% vegetable juice in this group. Vegetables can be raw or cooked, and they can be fresh, frozen, canned or dehydrated. This offers a wide variety of options for meeting daily and weekly intake recommendations.
MyPlate divides vegetables into the following subgroups: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Foods from every subgroup do not have to be consumed daily; instead, they can be incorporated into a weekly eating pattern for optimal health.
Essential Nutrients in Vegetables
Vegetables are an important part of a healthy eating pattern and are excellent sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C. These nutrients are vital for overall health and maintenance of body systems:
Potassium: This nutrient may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. A few sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tomato products and spinach.Fiber: Fiber regulates bowel function, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.Folate (folic acid): The body uses folate to form healthy red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida during fetal development.Vitamin A, E and C: These vitamins are found predominantly in green and yellow vegetables. Together, they protect against infection, help maintain eye and skin health, aid in wound healing, and have antioxidant functions