Why are they important?

They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancers. Vegetables provide many essential nutrients in our diet, including the following:

- Potassium: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure

- Magnesium: Necessary for healthy bones, muscles and for healthy blood pressure

- Fiber: Helps reduce cholesterol levels and maintain digestive health

- Vitamin A: Keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections

- Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps teeth and gums healthy and aids in iron absorption

How much do I need?
The amount of vegetables you need depends on your age, sex and how active you are. Most women should eat about 2 1/2 cups per day. Men should eat about 3 cups per day.

What counts as a cup of vegetables?
In general, 1 cup from the vegetable group is equal to 1 cup of chopped or cooked vegetables, 1 cup of vegetable juice or 2 cups raw leafy greens.

5 broccoli florets = 1/2 cup vegetable

6 baby carrots = 1/2 cup vegetable

1 cup cooked spinach = 1 cup vegetable

Tips for adding more vegetables to your diet:

- Add vegetables or vegetable juice to your soups, pasta dishes or casseroles

- Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave

- Drink vegetable juice as a snack or as a beverage with your meal

- Buy pre-bagged vegetables for quick salads and snacks

- Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips for your favorite dips

- Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to our egg or egg white omelet.

- Try at least 2 servings of vegetables at dinner

- Add tomato, lettuce, cucumber and sliced onion to sandwiches

- Order salads, vegetable soups or stir-fried vegetables when dining out

Nutrient Information

Excellent Sources of fiber: navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans, white beans, soybeans, split peas, chick peas, black eyed peas, lentils, artichokes

Excellent Sources of folate: black eyed peas, cooked spinach, great northern beans, asparagus

Good Sources of potassium: sweet potatoes, tomatoe paste, tomato puree, beets, greens, white potatoes, white beans, lima beans, cooked greens

Excellent Sources of Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, winter squash, red peppers, Chinese cabbage

Excellent Sources of Vitamin C: red and green peppers, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomato juice, cauliflower