You Need a Variety of Vegetables!

A number of factors determine how many servings of vegetables a person needs each day. Men tend to need more than women, and adults tend to need more than children. People who are more physically active need more servings than those who live sedentary lifestyles. One thing is universally true, though. Everyone needs to eat vegetables every day. While you know the importance of eating your veggies, you may not realize that it’s important to eat a variety of vegetables.

Vegetables contribute to a healthy diet

Vegetables provide plenty of health benefits. They’re full of nutrients that are less abundant in other foods, and they can help you manage a healthy weight. People who include vegetables as a staple in their diets are at a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Different vegetables contain different nutrients, though, and you can’t get all of the different nutrients you need from any one type of vegetable. You shouldn’t get 100% of your vegetable servings from iceberg lettuce (which falls under the “other vegetable” subgroup rather than “dark-greens”), but you also don’t want to get all of your servings from leafy green kale, either.

A healthy, balanced diet includes a variety of vegetables from all five vegetable subgroups.

Vegetable subgroups

There are five vegetable subgroups:

dark-green vegetables
red and orange vegetables
starchy vegetables
beans and peas (or legumes)
other vegetables.

  • Dark-green vegetables include kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and green herbs.
  • Red and orange vegetables include tomatoes, both hot and sweet peppers, winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
  • Beans and peas (legumes) include black, kidney, and pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and lima beans.
  • Starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, plantains, green peas, and jicama.
  • Other vegetables include iceberg lettuce, artichoke, asparagus, cucumber, avocado, summer squash, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, olives, and onions.

Make an effort to eat vegetables from each of the different subgroups. This can be a weekly goal rather than a daily goal. Try different vegetables from each group as you meet your daily recommended servings for veggies.

Learn more about daily recommendations for vegetable consumption and weekly vegetable subgroup recommendations.