Next on our countdown of the top 5 eating habits of 2016 is eating more vegetables. I am pretty sure that you are tired of hearing that message BUT most of us still need to work on this habit.

In the recently published 2015-2010 Dietary Guidelines For Healthy Americans nutrients that most Americans are not getting enough of are fibre and potassium. And guess what foods can play a huge role in increasing the intake of both potassium and fibre? You guessed it! Vegetables!

While it is nice to know that veggies will bring some key nutrients to the diet, but can eating veggies help to reduce inflammation? Veggies are inflammation reducing powerhouses! In fact when we look at the dietary patterns that are most associated with lower rates of diseases that are thought to be caused by inflammation, they are filled with an abundance of vegetables.

Why are veggies such inflammation busting foods? They do add lots of fibre and consuming adequate amounts of fibre is linked to lower levels of inflammation. Vitamin C, which is a potent anti inflammatory nutrient, is found in abundance in Red and Yellow peppers. Smaller amounts are found in dark green leafy vegetables, even a potato cooked in the skin. Vegetables also contain a variety of plant chemicals that can contribute to good health.

Veggies are almost all low in calories and carbohydrates, with only a few exceptions. That is one of the reasons that we focus so much on increasing vegetable consumption! Vegetables contain less calories and carbohydrates, which helps us to stay at or close to a healthy weight, which helps to keep inflammation at bay.

What is the right amount of vegetables to eat? Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide, suggests that women aged between 19 and 50 eat 6-8 portions of vegetables and fruit daily. This should be about 3 portions of fruits and the rest vegetables. And easier guide is the MyPlate guide from the United States that suggests that half your plate should be made up of vegetables. In an ideal world the vegetables would be of many colours and some would be cooked and other would be raw. After all some nutrients are better absorbed from cooked vegetables and others give more bang for the quantity when we eat raw vegetables. Vegetable juice should be reserved for occasions where there it is the best option for including vegetables in a meal.

So let’s set some goals for adding more vegetables to your diet. Maybe you want to purchase some frozen vegetables to have on hand for those days you do not want to peel and chop. Maybe you want to look up some interesting vegetable recipes because you realize that your family is not crazy about eating plain nude (steamed) vegetables, so you want to try something different. The Curried Root Vegetable Masala is now a favourite in our family. Extras heat up nicely the next day for lunch too.

What goals will you set?