Life Lessons

The best and worst veggies for your health

The recommended amount of daily vegetables is two to three cups, but the CDC reports that only 1 in 10 American adults are meeting that requirement. Eating a rainbow of vegetables each day is great for your body and mind.

Gena Lewis, MD, at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, says, “I always go back to that rainbow, where at the dinner table if you can go through your day, have you eaten five different colors of fruits and vegetables, and if you haven’t, can you add some of those colors into your dinner meal?”

When it comes to nutrients, spinach, kale, and broccoli top the list. Garlic and onions are natural antibiotics and can fight off bacteria and reduce inflammation, and for low-calorie snacks, turn to cucumbers or bell peppers.

“I always like to take the natural approach whenever possible and food is medicine,” Lewis said.

But watch out for high-calorie veggies such as white potatoes, boiled soybeans, and corn. The salt and butter often added to these foods can quickly turn them into cheat meals. And if you’re trying to shop better, take Dr. Lewis’ advice:

“Shop on the perimeter in the grocery store as much as possible and avoid the aisles where a lot of processed foods live,” she says.

Eating healthy is a choice that starts in the grocery store.

Just because a blooming onion is vegetable based, doesn’t mean it’s healthy: in fact, just one has almost 2,000 calories. Also, dipping your veggies in ranch or drowning it in cheese, like broccoli cheddar soup, adds an extreme amount of saturated fats.


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