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VARY YOUR VEGGIES: Why Eat Vegetables? (FN1452)

Vegetables are versatile, nutritious, colorful and flavorful. Not only are they naturally low in calories, fat and sodium, but they also are good sources of important vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Vegetables do not contain cholesterol. Increasing vegetable consumption can replace foods higher in calories and fat. Vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, particularly A and C. The value of a vegetable as a source of a nutrient is affected both by the amount of the nutrient present and by the amount of the vegetable eaten.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. Food and Nutrition Specialist


Carrots, leafy green vegetables and sweet potatoes are good sources of vitamin A. Likewise, peppers and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C. On the other hand, potatoes, while lower in vitamin C, also are a good source of the nutrient because large amounts of potatoes are eaten. Other vegetables are good sources of folic acid, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B-6, minerals (such as calcium and potassium) and fiber. (See Table 1.)

Nutrient rich table

Three R’s for cooking vegetables for best nutrition:

  • Reduce the amount of water used.
  • Reduce the cooking time.
  • Reduce the amount of exposed surface by limiting cutting, paring and shredding.

Overcooking will destroy color, crispness (texture) and some nutrients of the vegetable. Do not add baking soda to retain color because this will destroy nutrients.

 Rate your veggies

 Materials were partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Reviewed Jan. 2015

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