Challenge To Change: Eat Your Veggies

By Bobby DeMuro

Published On: Nov 02 2011 09:31:32 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 10 2011 02:55:37 AM EDT

Time for a new Challenge To Change! This time around we're talking nutrition.

Depending on your calorie intake as an adult, the USDA's nutritional guidelines recommend anywhere from 2-5 cups of vegetables every day - and that's exactly what we're challenging you to do over the next three weeks!

Hopefully, vegetables already make up a large portion of your diet. They are low in calories while being high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, packing a nutritious punch that benefits you head to toe.

For many of you, the toughest part of this challenge will be fitting this into your schedule; hectic work days and stress create the temptation and need to eat on the run - and that often means eating packaged foods, not having time to prepare food, and avoiding the veggie aisle at the supermarket altogether.

The good news, though, is that many veggies are easy and quick to prepare and eat, and many recipes and combinations don't require significant prep time. Next week, we'll discuss some preparation and serving ideas that are quick and simple, but first, let's review what's so good about vegetables, and why it's crucial to add them into your diet.

Not only are veggies rich in nutrients, but many provide powerful disease reduction potential - particularly in reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that a proper diet including 2-5 servings of vegetables each day can reduce various forms of cancer incidence by up to 40%.

Further research from Harvard University determined that people who ate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day had roughly a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, compared with those who ate less. Another fun fact about vegetables and health concerns your vision. A University of Texas study found that eating dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale promote eye health and the development of pigments to assist vision.

The displacement effect is also significant when talking about vegetable consumption - that is, people who eat more fruit and vegetables in turn tend to eat less high-calorie, low-nutrient foods rich in sugar and fat that have been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more. Many vegetable consumption programs coincide with a reduction of consumption in high-fat snacks - especially for kids!

There are many more studies out there linking vegetable consumption and medical benefits, but the bottom line regarding consumption is this - we know eating vegetables makes you a much healthier person.

Vegetables are that one food that you either love or hate - but the problem with hating vegetables is that they are the single most important food group you can consume. If you aren't eating vegetables, you aren't getting all of the benefits we've laid out above.

Unfortunately, we know that it's difficult and sometimes not a priority to eat those vegetables. That's why, over the next three weeks, we're challenging you to get your 2-5 cups every single day. We'll share tips on how to incorporate them into meals, how to get children to eat them, and more - but in the meantime, click the video and visualize exactly what a cup of vegetables looks like - and get started on getting your 2-5 cups every day!

About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter here or on Facebook

You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.