This article is going to have a look at vegetables for weight loss, their nutritional value, examples of the healthiest vegetables, how we can add vegetables to our diet, and how vegetables aid weight loss.
Vegetables should be part of a healthy eating plan. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of a healthy diet are less likely to develop chronic diseases and other health complications. Vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients for the health and maintenance of your body.
But what are vegetables?
Vegetables simply refer to all edible portions of plants, for example, flowers, fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds.
In the past, people used to collect vegetables from the wild as hunter-gatherers until when a new agricultural way of life started around 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC whereby several parts of the world started cultivation.
We classify vegetables based on the part of the plant that is edible. These include;
The root vegetables such as beets, carrots, radishes, sweet potatoes, and turnips
Stem vegetables such as asparagus, kohlrabi, and potatoes for the case of underground stems.
Leaf and leafstalk vegetables including; Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, lettuce, rhubarb, and spinach. while the bulb, vegetables include garlic, leeks, and onions.
The head or flower vegetables include artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower.
The fruits vegetables include cucumbers, eggplant, okra, sweet, corn, squash, peppers, and tomatoes.
Seed vegetables are legumes like peas and beans.
What is the nutritional value of vegetables?
Vegetables have almost all of the nutritional principles that your body may need, and their health benefits are enormous. The nutritional value of vegetables therefore includes;
- Potassium: Responsible for healthy blood pressure.
- Dietary fiber: This is important for weight loss, proper bowel function, helps constipation, and reduces cholesterol.
- Folate (folic acid): Forms red blood cells in the body.
- Vitamin A: Responsible for eye and skin health as well as protection against infections.
- Vitamin C: Aids iron absorption, keeps teeth and gums, and also heals wounds.
- Vitamin K:
- Antioxidants: Boosts the immune system and protects the body against oxidant stress, diseases, and cancers.
Most vegetables are low in fat, calories and none have cholesterol. With vegetables and fruits, variety is as important as quantity. This is because no single fruit or vegetable has all the nutrients that the body may need.
Are vegetables good for weight loss?
The short answer to this question is yes, vegetable aid weight loss, and this may be due to some factors which include;
First, research shows that vegetables are low calorie-dense. This means that you need very few calories to feel up the volume of your stomach. Eating very few calories is weight loss friendly.
Secondly, vegetables are rich in fiber that makes you feel fuller for longer. This reduces food intake hence weight loss. Research shows that viscous fiber, the type of fiber in many vegetables, is effective at reducing appetite.
In a nutshell, vegetables aid weight loss by relieving hunger and reducing calorie intake.
Below are our articles that relate food with weight loss. they are very resourceful or informative if I may say.
Examples of the best vegetables for weight loss
Spinach is nutrient-dense, low in calories, and can be used in many ways including recipes, smoothies, and more. According to the report by the center for disease control and prevention, spinach is linked to reduced risks of chronic diseases such as type 2diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
In addition to helping certain cancers, broccoli can also help you slim your waist. It contains a phytonutrient called sulforaphane that raises testosterone and fights fat stores.
It’s also rich in vitamin C a nutrient that reduces cortisol during stressful situations. This has anti-depressant effect and weight loss benefits too.
3. Spaghetti squash
Squash is low in calories. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a cup of cooked squash has around 42 calories. Squash has low fat and high in fiber. The fiber helps you stay full longer and hence reducing your calorie intake. This has a direct impact on weight loss.
4. Brussels sprouts
This is a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber. Fiber makes you feel full fast and stay satisfied for a while. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a cup of Brussels sprouts has around 38 calories. This is low enough to offset the effects of high calories.
5. Bell peppers
Sweet red and green peppers are high in Vitamin C and contain metabolism-boosting compound dihydrocapsiate. The high the metabolic rate, the more calories burnt by the body.
A cup of these bell-shaped veggies contains three times the daily recommendation of vitamin C. Vitamin C counteracts stress hormones which trigger fat storage around the midsection.
Eating cold potatoes turns the digestible starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. Resistant starch resists digestion, promotes fat oxidation, and reduces abdominal fat.
Cauliflower is rich in fiber that slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness. It is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in calories, all of which are important for weight loss. This vegetable has about 27 calories per cup.
8. Green peas
These have about 9 grams of fiber per cup which can meet your fiber goals, making you feel full and satisfied for weight loss.
How much vegetables should be in our daily diet?
By now, having looked at the nutritional value of vegetables, you can agree with me that vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet.
It’s not a surprise then when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) comes out to recommend that people include lots of vegetables in their diets.
The ideal daily intake of vegetables depends on several factors such as age, sex, and activity level. Below is the age-by-age guide that indicates how many cups of veggies individuals from age 2 to 92 should include in their daily diet.
Children from 2 to 3 years should take one cup of vegetables daily
4-8 years both boys and girls should 1 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.
For 9 to 13yrs, girls should aim at 2 cups a day while boys in the same age group should have at least 2 ½ cups.
Girls from 14 to 18 should eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day while boys in the same age group should eat at least 3 cups of vegetables daily. Active teens may even need more.
For individuals from 19 to 30, the recommended amount for men is at least 3 cups a day and at least 2 1/2 cups for women
For people from 31 to 50, aim at least 2 1/2 cups each day if you’re a woman and at least 3 cups if you’re a man.
For 51years and older, men should aim at 2 ½ cups and women should dial back to 2 cups. This is because the body’s metabolism tends to slow with age. Therefore, individuals at 51 years and older should cut back on calories to prevent weight gain
Other benefits of vegetable diets
Diets rich in vegetables may promote your heart health and you live longer. In one study, people who eat the most vegetables may have up to a 70% lower risk of developing heart disease
Diets rich in vegetables are linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes due to their high fiber content. Fiber reduces blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. All this may reduce the risk of developing type 2diabetes
Eating a lot of vegetables each day may reduce your risk of certain cancers due to high fiber content. One review linked each portion of vegetables consumed per day to a 50% lower risk of oral cancer
What are the downsides of eating a vegetable diet?
The vegetable diet may not have certain key nutrients generally found in animal foods. These include; vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and zinc.
Limited food choices
If you are used to a diet that includes meat, seafood, and other animal products, the vegetarian diet may be limited, challenging, and may take you time to adopt.
Vegetarian diets are low in calories, fat, and protein compared to other diets. This implies that with a vegetarian diet, you may feel less satisfied and hungry more often, and soon after a meal or snack.
Dining out may be challenging. When you dine at someone’s home who is not a vegetarian, preparing for you a simple vegetarian recipe that you can enjoy maybe hard.
Exposure to chemicals
There is an increased risk of exposure to herbicides and pesticides for people who deal with a plant-based diet. This is because most vegetables are farmed with herbicides and pesticides to kill pests and diseases. These may contain compounds that are dangerous to human life.
Vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories. This may aid weight loss by relieving hunger and reducing calorie intake. Vegetables are also linked to a lower risk of many diseases, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and some cancers which may prevent premature death.
Subscribe for weekly insights on faster weight loss and good health.