Friday, March 1, 2024
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From salad to smiles

ANN/THE STAR/TNS – Despite knowing and accepting the health benefits, many people seem to just be unable to enjoy eating vegetables and practice a regular intake in their diet.

There is even scientific evidence that shows it is difficult to convince people who already dislike vegetables to eat more.

But it might just require a different type of approach. If you’re someone who wants to eat more vegetables, despite disliking them, don’t give up.

In 2021, scientists from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) – the research arm of the United States Department of Agriculture – set out to test if feeding more vegetables to a person would entice that individual to continue eating more of these super healthful foods.

They based a study on previous findings that the more an overweight individual ate foods such as candy, cookies and chips, the more likely they were to continue that habit.

So maybe the same would be true for eating more vegetables? Not exactly.

PHOTO: ENVATO
PHOTO: ENVATO

Volunteers in this study were overweight men and women who usually ate less than one cup of vegetables a day. For eight weeks, they were provided with the types and amounts of vegetables currently recommended by experts (between two to four servings a day).

After this time, they were on their own for two more months to eat as they wished.

The results? When provided with the right amount and types of veggies, these participants did increase their intake of these foods.

However, in the second part of the study when they were left to their own choices, they returned to their usual habits.

All was not lost, however. As part of this same study, these volunteers also completed a “happiness scale” in which they reported their feelings of contentment and pleasure through both arms of the study.

Lo and behold, these men and women had higher happiness scores when they ate the recommended amount of vegetables, and lower scores when they didn’t.

According to the ARS researchers, these results “suggest that increasing the amount of vegetables you eat every day may benefit your mental health”.

Ready to take the challenge? Aim for at least two cups of different types and colours of vegetables every day. And be willing to try some that may be new to you.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following powerhouse vegetables are among those with the highest concentration of nutrients associated with keeping us well: leafy greens such as chard, beet and collard greens, spinach, and leafy lettuce, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower.

Others on the list include red peppers, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, winter squash and sweet potatoes. Who knows? This could be your headstart to a better outlook on the whole world.

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