There’s a good chance that you are thinking of ways to live healthier in the new year. The new year is a great time to make healthy lifestyle changes and give up bad habits to improve your well being. The most popular New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise, losing weight, and eating a healthier diet.
No matter who you turn to for health and nutrition advice, nearly all experts can agree on the importance of eating enough vegetables on a regular basis. However, data from the USDA shows only ten percent of Americans are meeting the dietary guidelines recommendation of three servings a day. That means most of us are likely missing out on our daily fiber, vitamin, and mineral needs as well.
Many of us fall short on getting our 2 1/2 – 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day, the amount recommended by US dietary guidelines. Experts at Well and Good magazine advise consuming six cups of veggies a day, having at least one serving at each meal and snack when possible.
Vegetarian meals focus on fruits and vegetables, dried beans, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. According to the NIH, only two percent of the American adult population follows this type of diet. People have many reasons for becoming vegetarians, most to eat healthier foods. NIH-funded research states that eating a plant based diet can boost your health whether you’re vegetarian or not. Vegetarians tend to miss out on major health problems that plague many Americans. They are most likely to avoid heart related illnesses and generally live longer than most. The fact is, eating more vegetables will boost your health whether you are vegetarian or not.
From cutting down your grocery bills to serving up some serious health benefits, the pros of a plant based lifestyle are vast. Not only are plants great for your health, they do wonders for the earth too. Following a vegetarian diet may be the single best way for us to create a greener and more sustainable earth. Eating more plants helps to reduce famine, according to the Journal of Soil and Water. One acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef.
A sudden shift towards vegetarian eating can be difficult so many individuals choose to ditch animal products a few days a week. Making one meal a day completely plant based is another great option.
My path to a vegetarian diet began years ago while living in California and Hawaii. Fresh vegetables and fruit were so plentiful that it was impossible not to have the majority of my diet be plant based. I was a part of a group of athletes that were very interested in eating healthy foods to maintain stamina and strength. I did continue to eat the beautiful fish of the Pacific Ocean such as Opakapaka, Wahoo, Ahi, and Mahi Mahi. My husband suggested following a vegan diet six years ago, he is committed but I continue to eat cheese, eggs (from our backyard chickens), and butter. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not eating meat, mushrooms and beans make the best burgers.
To build a healthy and balanced diet, aim for color and variety. A healthy diet is a diet that maintains and improves overall health.