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Vegetable Food Group

MyPlate – Vegetable Food Group

The green section of USDA’s MyPlate represents the vegetable food group. Make sure that half of your plate consists of vegetables and fruits. Vary you vegetable choices. Select your vegetables from among the 5 vegetable subgroups. Try to consume the amounts listed from each subgroup over a week, as a way to reach your daily intake recommendation.

Vegetable Food Group

What is a Vegetable?

Any vegetable or juice that is 100% vegetable is a member of the vegetable group, according to the MyPlate program. Vegetables can be raw or cooked, canned, frozen, fresh, dehydrated or dried. Vegetables can also be mashed, cut or whole.

There are 5 subgroups of vegetables, and this division is based on their nutrient content.

  • Dark green vegetables (broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach, watercress, kale)
  • Red and Orange vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes)
  • Beans and peas (black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, soy beans, tofu, lentils, green peas)
  • Starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, green peas, green lima beans, water chestnuts)
  • Other vegetables (zucchini, wax beans, green beans, green or bell peppers, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts)

As you can see by looking at the examples, there are a significant variety of vegetables that will certainly please most people. Try to eat a variety from each of these 5 vegetable subgroups.

How much is needed from the Vegetable Food Group?

The amount of vegetables suggested for an individual depends on age, gender, and how much physical activity one regularly engages in. One simple way to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of vegetables is to make sure half the plate you eat from is composed of fruits and/or vegetables.

As a benchmark, an adult woman needs about 2-2.5 of vegetables every day, and a man needs about 2.5-3 cups of vegetables every day.

Why is it Important to eat Vegetables?

It’s important to eat vegetables because of the many health benefits they provide. Vegetables provide you with vital nutrients such as dietary fiber, potassium, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E that are important for your health. By eating vegetables, you will gain many health benefits, like reduced risk of some chronic diseases.

For example:

  • Eating foods such as vegetables that are typically lower in calories than many food options per cup may be helpful in lowering overall calorie intake.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits that are rich in potassium may help to reduce the risk of developing decreased bone density and developing kidney stones.
  • Diets rich in foods that have fiber like fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a general healthy diet can protect against particular types of cancer.
  • Eating a rich diet of fruits and vegetables as part of an overall balanced and health diet may serve to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

5 Tips to Eat More Vegetables

USDA’s MyPlate offers several tips to help you increase the amount of vegetables you consume.

  • Buying fresh vegetables when they are in season cost less and are more likely to taste best because they are at peak flavor.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables that can be cooked when you are in a hurry and need a quick healthy meal.
  • Use a microwave to ‘zap’ vegetables like sweet or white potatoes.
  • Try eating crunchy vegetables lightly steamed or raw.
  • With all the choices of vegetables, try many different ones to keep your meals interesting.

More about the 5 Subgroups of the Vegetable Food Group

The 5 subgroups of vegetable food group are based on their nutrient content. Every subgroup provides special nutrients and health benefits. Learn about the benefits and the recommended weekly amount.

1. Dark green vegetables

Dark green vegetables can provide you with many essential vitamins and minerals. They are especially rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and Calcium. The darker the leaves, the more nutrients the vegetable usually has. Furthermore, they are rich in healthy fibers. Vegetables make you feel full longer and are also low in calories. USDA’s MyPlate recommends that adults should consume about 1.5-2 cups of dark green vegetables per week.

2. Red and Orange vegetables

Red and orange vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. They contain beta carotene, folate, potassium, as well as vitamins A and C. The antioxidants and phytochemicals they contain, can boost your immune system, fight harmful free radicals and reduce the risks of developing certain types of cancer. These vegetables can also lower blood pressure, LDL and cholesterol levels. Macular degeneration due to aging and problems with joints can be reduced by eating orange vegetables. Furthermore, orange vegetables are low in fat and high in fiber. Eating orange vegetables will help you get more energy. USDAs MyPlate recommends that adults should consume about 4-6 cups of red and orange vegetables per week.

3. Beans and Peas

The subgroup beans and peas, bears further explanation as they are a unique group of foods. Beans and peas are legumes that have matured. In addition to the ones mentioned above, this group includes chickpeas, split peas, and pinto beans, to name a few. Beans and peas are considered excellent sources of plant protein and provide specific nutrients such as zinc and iron. Beans and peas are similar to protein and can be categorized in the protein group. Many think that beans and peas are vegetarian options for meat. However, beans and peas are considered part of the vegetable group as they are an excellent source of folate, potassium, and dietary fiber. For many Americans, these particular nutrients are found to be low in their diets, and that is part of the reason the MyPlate program places particular interest in what they are and the benefits they provide.

Unlike meat-based proteins, beans are naturally low in fat. Beans don’t contain any of the unhealthy saturated or trans fat. Beans are cholesterol-free source of protein. Research shows that a diet including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease. Beans are also high in antioxidants and protect against cell damaging free radicals in the body. This is believed to reduce aging and possibly prevent certain types of cancer. Darker colored beans and red beans are very good sources of antioxidants. Eating beans regularly helps reduce gas production in the large intestine. USDA’s MyPlate recommends that adults should consume about 1-2 cups of beans and peas per week.

4. Starchy vegetables

Starchy vegetables are a good source of energy. They contain starch, fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins. Many Low-carb diets cut down on starchy foods, but by doing so they also cut out many nutrients. USDA’s MyPlate recommends that adults should consume about 4-6 cups of starchy vegetables per week.

5.  Other vegetables

USDA’s MyPlate recommends that adults should consume 3.5-5 cups of other vegetables per week.

 

Reference:

USDA’s My Plate