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Why Increasing Non-Starchy Vegetables Intake Is Vital To Overall Health And Disease Prevention

Carbohydrates are the brain's preferred source of energy. Think quality and daily quantity.

Before we dive into this week's topic, let us begin by asking you a very important question:

How many servings of fruit and vegetables (F/V) did you consume on yesterday? Take a few minutes to reflect on what you ate yesterday. It's ok to guesstimate how much you think you consumed for this quick recall.

If you aren't sure what equates to a serving size of F/V, review the list below:

  • 1 cup of raw or cooked fruits and vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup of legumes or beans

  • 3 cups of leafy greens

"Did you consume at least 3 or more servings of fruit and vegetables on yesterday?"

Truth is, you are not alone. The current 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily as part of a healthy, daily diet. Currently studies show Americans still struggle to meet these guidelines. On average, most adults consume less than 1 cup of fruit per day and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables per day.

In our state of Louisiana, adults consume a sub-optimal intake of 1 serving of fruit

and vegetables every day. Only 8% of the state’s population meets the daily

recommendations for F/V.

Low fruit and vegetable intake is one of the major risk factors correlated to the personal and economical burdens of chronic disease and premature deaths in the United States and Worldwide1.

Now, consider this: Louisiana ranks 4th out of 51 states as having the highest obesity rates, with 43.5% of that population consisting of African Americans. Louisiana ranks 4th in the highest rates of diabetes and 6th in current hypertension rates. These staggering statistics are directly correlated to lifestyle factors like excessive calorie consumption, high sugar, fat, and sodium intake, low F/V intake, low hydration, and low/no physical activity.

In general, fruit and vegetables are great sources of fiber, folate, vitamins A, B6, C, K, E, copper, magnesium, thiamin, niacin, and choline.

A diet rich in F/V is directly correlated to the disease prevention, lower mortality risk, and decreases in many chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers.

Specifically, non-starchy vegetables are also rich in vitamins and fiber. Non-starchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrates (starch=glucose), better stabilizing blood sugar and slowing down digestion.

The takeaway from this post is highlighting the importance:

  1. Increasing daily consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet minimum standards.

  2. Increase daily consumption of non-starchy vegetables

  3. Increase daily intake of fiber-rich foods

  4. Naturally increase daily intake of natural vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant sources.

  5. Improving overall dietary balance and variety

By making just one small change, like consuming 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day, you can create a big difference in your overall health, wellness, and weight management.

Lists of Non-Starchy Vegetables:

Non-Starchy Green Vegetables

Artichokes and artichoke hearts


Brussels sprouts


Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese, red)




Dandelion greens



Peppers (all green types)



Non-Starchy Leafy Greens

Non-Starchy Red/Orange Vegetables

Non-Starchy Beans, Peas, Legumes

Other Non-Starchy Vegetables

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