If you are trying to be healthier but have an unhealthy relationship with vegetables, know that you’re not alone. In a 2020 study involving 2,000 adults, the Craft Guild of Chefs discovered that “nearly half of the adults surveyed (47%) confess they rarely or never eat five portions (of vegetables) a day, with nearly 1 in 20 (3%) confessing they do not eat any vegetables.”

The study noted that, “Excuses for skipping the five portions include not finding veggies exciting (39%) and not liking the taste of them (37%). One-third also admit they think it takes too much time and effort to prepare salads and vegetables daily.”

How many vegetables should we eat a day?

According to the National Health Service, people should eat five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. A portion consists of around 80 grams of the food item.

Harvard Health said individuals who incorporate vegetables into their diet are less likely to encounter health problems:

  • A 13% reduction in overall mortality risk.
  • A 12% decrease in the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.
  • A 10% reduction in the risk of succumbing to cancer.
  • A 35% drop in likelihood of dying from respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Fruits and vegetables are major sources of several nutrients that are strongly linked to good health, particularly the health of the heart and blood vessels: potassium, magnesium, fiber, and polyphenols (antioxidant plant compounds),” Dr. Daniel Wang, faculty member of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Harvard Health.

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How to incorporate vegetables into your diet

Consuming vegetables every day provides our body with the vitamins and minerals needed for better health. This habit helps people maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk of chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Here are some tips for how to sneak more veggies into your diet without having to force them down:

  1. Cook them in oil: Adding a little oil or cheese to your vegetables as you cook them can enhance the flavor without reducing their health benefits. Oil can also help “the body absorb the nutrients found in the vegetables,” per HuffPost. “So, don’t be afraid to add some of those healthy fats to your veggies to make them more delicious and nutritious.”
  2. Pair with foods you like: Incorporate vegetables into dishes you already love to make eating them easier. For example, add spinach to your smoothies, grated zucchini to your pasta sauce or finely chopped vegetables in soups and casseroles.
  3. Try different cooking methods: The way a vegetable is cooked can significantly change its flavor and texture. Try roasting, grilling or stir-frying vegetables with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings to enhance their taste.
  4. Experiment with soups: “If the texture of both raw AND cooked vegetables is not your thing, puree them instead,” Heart and Stroke recommends. “Prepare blended soups or smoothies to increase vegetable and fruit consumption.”
  5. Begin small: Start with small portions of vegetables and gradually increase the amount as you get used to the flavors.
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