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- There’s a long list of reasons to add more vegetables into your diet.
- While some might be obvious – like helping you to lose weight – others, like the emotional aspects, aren’t as intuitive.
- Here is why, according to health and wellness experts, you should load your plate with vegetables, even if you don’t want to.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Americans have a love affair with foods filled with fat, salt, and sugar.
For some people, eating unhealthy foods is a result of not knowing which ones are good or bad for them. For others, it may be a primary emotional coping mechanism.
But it’s important to remember that no matter the emotion, whether it be stress, anger, boredom, loneliness, or something else, it can’t be filled with food.
In fact, a diet high in processed foods and low in vegetables has been associated with depression, whereas a diet high in fresh produce has been linked to an improvement in mental health.
There’s clearly a long list of reasons to add more vegetables into your diet. While some might be obvious – like having an easier time slipping into skinny jeans you bought last year – others, like the emotional aspects, aren’t as intuitive.
We reached out to health experts and asked them to share reasons why you should load your plate with vegetables, even if you don’t want to.
You’ll be happier
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An oft-quoted 2016 study showed that increased vegetable consumption was correlated with more happiness and life satisfaction, but there are many more where that came from. In fact, just earlier this year a new study was published that showed there was a strong connection between eating vegetables and improved mental health.
“As vegetables increase in the diet, happiness might be a change that is noticed before specific physical changes in the body, so I always tell people to consider eating vegetables an investment in happiness,” Naomi Whittel, author of “Glow15,” told Business Insider.
You’ll sleep better
Several studies have looked at the association between vegetable consumption and sleep length and quality.
“It’s no surprise that more veggies equals better sleep as the micronutrients in vegetables help to promote healthy circadian rhythms,” Whittel said. “Better sleep means better work ability and efficiency, so eat those veggies and get your Z’s.”
You’ll have a higher attention span
“When your blood sugar is out of balance due to overconsumption of sugar and highly refined foods, it can lead to insulin resistance,” nutrition educator Tarah Chieffi told Business Insider. “Over time, and especially if this develops into type 2 diabetes, executive function, and attention can all be affected, so it’s important to load your plate every day with a variety of fresh vegetables.”
It will boost brain health
“Veggies such as avocado, tomatoes, kale, and spinach have antioxidants that are known to help reduce inflammation and have the ability to protect your vital organs such as your brain,” dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, told Business Insider. “These nutrients are also key drivers for optimal brain functioning and mood stability.”
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach have been particularly singled for their ability to slow memory decline.
You’ll have more energy
“Green veggies contain folate and other B vitamins that support metabolism and the feeling of energy throughout the day,” Whittel said. “It’s simple to add a handful of spinach when you are heating up leftovers or making a smoothie.”
Your digestive health will be improved
As mentioned, eating a diet rich in vegetables ensures that you have enough fiber in your diet. Fiber is not only important for keeping blood-sugar levels in check, but for digestive health, too.
“Fiber fuels the good bacteria in your gut,” Gabriela Peacock, nutritionist and founder of GP Nutrition, told Business Insider.
If you don’t eat enough vegetables, she said, you’re likely to experience bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues.
You’ll save money
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Fill up your cart with veggies instead of processed foods and meats and watch your grocery bill go down, while your nutrition and health goes up.
“To save even more, shop in season, grow your own or buy in bulk,” Whittel said.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables also means you’ll save in the long term as vegetables contribute to overall health in a way that processed foods will never be able to.
You’ll be more productive
Processed foods are addicting, and that can be a huge distraction.
“If you can’t get going in the morning without a sugary coffee drink or you’re constantly thinking about the pastries in the break room, it can affect your productivity at work,” Chieffi said. “When you break that dependence by eating more balanced meals, high in nutrient-dense vegetables, you’ll be able to better focus on the task at hand.”