From a health standpoint, vegetables are a five-star food group: naturally nutrient-rich; better tasting than a vitamin pill; low in calories and fat; cholesterol-free; and packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients.
A study in the November Journal of Nutrition emphasizes the double benefit of vegetable intake. Volunteers who ate vegetables consistently for two weeks had higher blood levels of vitamin C - and lower levels of some compounds that impair health. In this study, the vegetables were eaten as gazpacho, an antioxidant-rich soup of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and garlic.
To maximize your health with vegetables, nutrition experts suggest at least three to five servings per day - in a rainbow of colors. All types of vegetables can be nourishing and delicious - fresh, frozen, canned and juiced. Hearty soups and stews are a great way to enjoy veggies on frosty winter days. Other ways to bump up your intake during cold and flu season include: crunchy carrots for a snack at school or work; a tossed spinach salad at lunch or dinner; and a quick-to-cook side of frozen broccoli in the evening.