It’s no surprise that eating vegetables is good for you, but new research out on Thursday from the University of Sydney suggests it will lower psychological stress too.
The study surveyed 60,000 Australians aged 45 or older and examined the subjects intake of fruit and vegetables, along with their lifestyle factors and levels of psychological stress at two separate time points between 2006-2008 and 2010.
Using the Kessler psychological distress scale, a 10 point scale measuring general anxiety and depression, researchers compared the results against the amount of vegetables and fruits they were consuming.
“Around 50 percent of adults meet the guidelines for fruit intake and only seven percent for vegetables!” Researcher Dr Melody Ding told Xinhua.
An alarming statistic considering “women who ate 5-7 daily serves of fruit and vegetables daily had a 23 percent lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily,” the study said.
“Even moderate daily vegetable intake alone is linked to a lower incidence of psychological stress,” with people who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables per day experiencing 12 percent lower stress levels than those who ate 0-1 serves daily.
Contrary to popular thought, fruit alone was reported to have no significant effect on lowering psychological stress.
The exact reason as to why the consumption of vegetables appears to decrease stress is still not entirely clear however.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know. Our findings are based on big data at the population level, we need to work with other disciplines to get to understand the mechanisms,” Ding said.
Interestingly, the consumption of vegetables and the effects on mood, although highly beneficial for both sexes, was less pronounced in men.
“The association is much stronger with women. Why? we can’t say,” she said.
“There could be a true biological difference between men and women or perhaps women are better at reporting their diets and their stress levels?”
– How To Eat More Vegetables –
Vegetables are Mother Nature’s very own nutritional miracles. Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water, the humble veggie is not only good to eat but essential for your health and wellbeing. And if you are trying to lose weight, veggies will help you get there faster as they are filling without being energy dense. With the exception of starchy vegetables like potatoes, you can eat almost unlimited amounts of vegetables without worrying about your waistline expanding as a result.
However, for many people, eating veggies is something that doesn’t come naturally and many people’s vegetable consumption is limited to a leaf or two of wilted lettuce in a burger or the onion on a pizza.
You KNOW you should be eating more vegetables so in this article you’ll learn how get more vegetables into your diet.
Think vegetables first
Whenever you are planning a meal, think about veggies first. Select two or three different ones and then consider what you can add in to make that meal more rounded – grilled chicken and brown rice for example. Try and make sure that your plate is at least half-covered in vegetables. By prioritizing vegetables you are much less likely to forget about them.
Snack on raw veggies
Raw veggies make a great, filling and healthy snack. Carrot sticks, cucumber, sliced tomatoes – a great many vegetables can be eaten raw. If plain, raw veggies strike you as a little bland, slightly sprinkle with some sea salt or use with a low calorie dip. If you are a “TV snacker”, eating raw veggies will help you avoid eating candy and other high calorie foods that may be undoing your weight loss efforts.
Make super soups
Soups are a brilliant way to get more vegetables into your diet. Select three to five different vegetables, cook them until tender in vegetable stock and then liquidize using a stick-type blender. Serve with wholegrain bread or crackers and you have a super healthy meal in minutes.
Have a vegetable-only meal once a week
Even if you are a staunch omnivore, there is nothing wrong with having a once or twice a week vegetable only meal. Seek out vegetarian recipes and embrace veggies like a long lost friend. Yes, you may miss out on a little protein but, in the grand scheme of things, those extra vegetables will more than make up for skipping the meat for a meal or two. Vegetable-only meals also tend to be light and easily digested making them ideal of you have been eating too much rich or heavy food lately and feel like your digestive system could do with a rest.
Seek out new veggies to try
Many of us eat fairly routine diets and do not try new things very often. If your idea of “lots of vegetables” means peas, carrots and potatoes, maybe it’s time you try to broaden your tastes and try something new? There is a veritable A to Z of vegetables so next time you head into the supermarket, take a moment to explore the vegetable department and purposely try something new. Who knows, there might be a new favorite vegetable waiting for you to try!
Sub in the veggies
Most people eat veggies as an accompaniment but you can get more vegetables into your diet by substituting vegetables for some other common non-veggie foods…
Instead of pasta in lasagna, use thinly sliced zucchini instead. Not only does this slash the carb and calorie content, you’ll end up eating several servings of this venerable vegetable.
Replace wheat tortillas with lettuce leaves the next time you make a lunchtime wrap. This is another great calorie and carb saver.
Shredded and lightly sautéed cabbage makes for a great spaghetti substitute that is all but calorie-free. You can also use thinly ribboned zucchini and even spaghetti squash too.
Instead of rice, grate and then lightly boil cauliflower florets. Low in carbs and calories but high in nutrients, this is an excellent rice substitute especially for those who are trying to cut back on grains.
Next time you are having hamburgers, substitute the bun for two lightly grilled, large portabella mushrooms.
Add baby spinach to smoothies. Spinach is high in iron (just ask Popeye) and tastes great mixed with fruits like bananas and berries.
If you care about your health and your weight, vegetables really should be the cornerstone of your diet. Sadly, though, in this age of food convenience, they are often shunned in favor of refined carbs such as white bread, white rice and white pasta. Focusing more on vegetables will make weight loss easier and improve virtually every aspect of your health so make today the day you start to “veg out”!
– Vegetable –
In everyday usage, a vegetable is any part of a plant that is consumed by humans as food as part of a meal. The term vegetable is somewhat arbitrary, and largely defined through culinary and cultural tradition.
It normally excludes other food derived from plants such as fruits, nuts, and cereal grains, but includes seeds such as pulses. The original meaning of the word vegetable, still used in biology, was to describe all types of plant, as in the terms “vegetable kingdom” and “vegetable matter”.
Originally, vegetables were collected from the wild by hunter-gatherers and entered cultivation in several parts of the world, probably during the period 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC, when a new agricultural way of life developed.
At first, plants which grew locally would have been cultivated, but as time went on, trade brought exotic crops from elsewhere to add to domestic types.
Nowadays, most vegetables are grown all over the world as climate permits, and crops may be cultivated in protected environments in less suitable locations.
China is the largest producer of vegetables and global trade in agricultural products allows consumers to purchase vegetables grown in faraway countries.
The scale of production varies from subsistence farmers supplying the needs of their family for food, to agribusinesses with vast acreages of single-product crops. Depending on the type of vegetable concerned, harvesting the crop is followed by grading, storing, processing, and marketing.
Vegetables can be eaten either raw or cooked and play an important role in human nutrition, being mostly low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Many nutritionists encourage people to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, five or more portions a day often being recommended.
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(Different agencies we mention above contributed for this report “Eating vegetables will lower psychological stress, new research from the University of Sydney suggests”, edited to fit the style of the page, added additional material and illustrations by Alad Von Alad via VOP)