Benefits of Vegetables: Nutrition and health benefits

benefits of vegetables

We recommend taking a variety of vegetables daily. Health Benefits of Eating Vegetables, Which vegetables should you take in raw form? Which should you eat only after cooking? Which is the best method to cook vegetables? What is the appropriate amount for vegetables? Let us dig in.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Variety: Include a variety of vegetables. Choose different colors of vegetables.
  2. Eat Different Vegetables: Eat at least 3 different vegetables daily. Choose vegetables from different vegetable groups.
  3. Eat more salad: 60% of total vegetable intake should be from non-starchy vegetables. Eat it in raw uncooked and natural form.
  4. 40% Cooked: 40% of total vegetable intake should in cooked form. Boiling is the best cooking method for vegetables.
  5. Eat Seeds and Nuts with Veggies.
  6. Boil starchy vegetables and vegetables with high oxalate content: Boil starchy vegetables (e.g., potatoes, yam, butternut, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.) and high oxalate vegetables (e.g., spinach, beet greens, swiss chard, purple amaranth, and green amaranth, Colocasia. Boiling reduces oxalate content and aids in the easier digestion of these vegetables.

RECOMMENDED VEGETABLE SERVINGS

You should consider your appetite and metabolism to analyze how much food should be suitable for you. At least 25% of your plate should be vegetables. We also provide a reference for a recommended vegetable amount according to age, as below. You can consider it while deciding.

Standard Serving Size

Vegetable Type1 Serving Size equal to:
Raw Vegetables150 grams
Cooked Vegetables75 grams
Vegetable Juice125 ml
Dry Vegetable powder **30 grams

We do not recommend dry vegetables. If you eat dry powder of vegetables, you should not take more than once a week.

Daily Recommended Servings

The following table represents the serving size for fresh (raw uncooked) vegetables.

Age Group (in years)Minimum Daily AmountRecommended Daily Amount
1-2½ serving (75 g)1 Serving (150 g)
2-31 Serving (150 g)1 ½ Serving (225 g)
4-81 ½ Serving (225 g)2 Servings (300 g)
9-112 Servings (300 g)2 ½ Servings (375 g)
12-132 Servings (300 g)3 Servings (450 g)
14-183 Servings (450 g)4 Servings (600 g)
19-703 Servings (450 g)5 Servings (750 g)
70+2 Servings (300 g)4 Servings (600 g)
Pregnant3 Servings (450 g)5 Servings (750 g)
Lactating3 Servings (450 g)5 Servings (750 g)
  1. Minimum: The minimum daily amount refers to the required daily amount that you must eat each day. People eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables every day have a lower risk of diseases. (reference) According to this scenario, 400 grams of vegetables and 400 grams of fruits are essential for an adult to have a healthy life.
  2. Recommended: The recommended daily amount refers to the amount recommended to get maximum healing benefits.

According to your diet plan – Healing Phase Diet, Stabilizing Phase Diet, or Preventing Phase Diet, you should take vegetables according to the above-recommended daily amount. If you follow Healing Phase Diet and Stabilizing Phase Diet, you must eat vegetables in the recommended daily amount. You can eat more than the recommended daily amount, but it should not be less than the recommended amount.

For cooked vegetables, serving size reduces to half. For example, raw carrot serving size is 150 grams, for cooked carrot, it will be 75 grams.

Raw and Cooked Vegetables

You should take 60% of total vegetables in raw form and 40% in cooked form. Here is a table for a recommended daily amount.

Age Group (in years)Raw VegetablesCooked Vegetables
1-290 grams30 grams
2-3135 grams45 grams
4-8180 grams60 grams
9-11225 grams75 grams
12-13270 grams90 grams
14 – 18360 grams120 grams
19 – 70450 grams150 grams
70+360 grams120 grams
Pregnant450 grams150 grams
Lactating450 grams150 grams

VEGETABLE CATEGORIES

We divide vegetables into the 7 categories:

Most Recommended:

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables.
  2. Fruiting Vegetables.
  3. Leafy Greens and Petiole Vegetables.
  4. Marrow Vegetables.
  5. Root Vegetables.

Least Recommended:

  1. Allium Vegetables.
  2. Stem Vegetables.

You should try to include vegetables from each category in your weekly diet.

Recommended Weekly Ratio

There are the main 5 categories for the recommended weekly diet. Other two categories are optional.

CategoriesRecommended Weekly Ratio
Cruciferous Vegetables20%
Fruiting Vegetables20%
Leafy Greens and Petiole Vegetables20%
Marrow Vegetables20%
Root Vegetables20%

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

Your weekly vegetable intake should include 20% cruciferous vegetables.

Recommended Form:

Cruciferous VegetablesRecommended Form
Bok ChoyRaw
BroccoliRaw, Boiled
Brussels SproutsRaw, Steamed, Roasted
Cabbage (red, green, savoy).Raw, Steamed, Boiled, Roasted
Cauliflower (white, green, orange, purple)Raw, Steamed, Boiled, Roasted
HorseradishRaw, Steamed
Kohlrabi (green, purple)Raw, Steamed, Boiled, Roasted

FRUITING VEGETABLES

Fruiting vegetables are essential. Your weekly vegetable intake should include 20% fruiting vegetables. Bell peppers and tomatoes are significantly important. You should use chilies with caution and in a very minimal amount less than ½ to 1 per day.

Recommended Form:

Fruiting VegetablesRecommended Form
Bell Pepper or Capsicums (green, red, yellow)Raw, Boiled
ChiliesRaw
EggplantSteamed, Boiled, Roasted
TamarilloBoiled, Roasted
TomatoesRaw, Boiled

LEAFY GREENS AND PETIOLE VEGETABLES

Your weekly vegetable intake should include 20% leafy green and petiole vegetables.

Recommended Form:

VegetablesRecommended Form
Amaranth (Green)Boiled
Amaranth (Purple)Boiled
ArugulaRaw
Beet greenBoiled
Celery leavesRaw
Chard (Silver beet)Boiled
Chicory greenRaw
CilantroRaw
Collard greensRaw
ColocasiaBoiled
CorianderRaw
Curry LeavesRaw
DandelionRaw
Dill LeavesRaw
DrumstickRaw
EndiveRaw
Fenugreek LeavesRaw
Kale (black, green, or red)Raw and massaged
LettuceRaw
Mustard LeavesRaw, Boiled
ParsleyRaw
Radish GreensRaw, Boiled
SorrelBoiled
SpinachBoiled
Swiss chardBoiled
Turnip greensRaw
WatercressRaw

MARROW VEGETABLES

Your weekly vegetable intake should include 20% of marrow vegetables. Cucumbers should be the main marrow vegetable for your daily diet.

Recommended Form:

VegetableRecommended Form
Cucumbers (all types)Raw
Pumpkins (all types)Boiled
Snake CucumberRaw
Squash (all types)Boiled
ZucchiniBoiled

ROOT VEGETABLES

Your weekly vegetable intake should include 20% root vegetables.

Recommended Form:

VegetableRecommended Form
BeetrootsRaw
CarrotsRaw, Boiled
CeleriacBoiled
Chicory RootBoiled
Fennel bulbRaw
ParsnipBoiled
Potatoes (all types)Boiled
RadishRaw
Sweet PotatoesBoiled
TurnipRaw, Boiled
YamBoiled

ALLIUM VEGETABLES

Allium vegetables are optional and least recommended group of vegetables.

If you are following Healing Phase Diet and Stabilizing Phase Diet, you should not consume allium vegetables. You can start taking alliums during Preventing Phase Diet. Alliums are not considered as Sattvic. If you also follow the Sattvic Diet, you should not take alliums.

A few examples of allium vegetables are as follows:

Recommended Form:

VegetableRecommended Form
ChivesRaw
GarlicRaw, Roasted, Caramelized Using Water
Garlic scapesRoasted, Caramelized Using Water
LeeksRaw
OnionRaw, Caramelized Using Water
Scallions (Green Onions)Raw
ShallotRaw, Caramelized Using Water

How to Cook: You should not use oil or any fat to caramelize alliums. Just cook in a pan until turns brown. Sprinkle water occasionally to prevent burning.

STEM VEGETABLES

Stem vegetables are optional and least recommended group of vegetables.

Recommended Form:

VegetableRecommended Form
AsparagusRaw, Boiled
Bamboo shootsBoiled
Celery stemRaw
Rhubarb stalkBoiled, Simmered in Water

You should not take Rhubarb leaves and roots due to high oxalic acid. Only stalks are edible.

VEGETABLE DIGESTIBILITY

  1. Boiled vegetables are easy to digest than steamed vegetables.
  2. Steamed vegetables are easy to digest than raw vegetables.
  3. Raw vegetables are easy to digest than boiled and steamed vegetables processed or fortified with oil or fat.
  4. Non-starchy vegetables are easy to digest than starchy vegetables.
  5. All vegetables are easy to digest than grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and animal foods. But heavier to digest than fruits.

According to digestibility, if you cook vegetables in oil or any type of fat (ghee, butter, etc.), it becomes heavier to digest than boiled in water alone. Cooking in oil reduces dryness causing property of vegetables, especially in green leafy vegetables (discussed below).

You should make sure you are not consuming oil more than the recommended amount, as in dietary guidelines.

The best way is to include 60% raw vegetables and 40% cooked vegetables. I have provided a list of vegetables with the best way to consume them under each vegetable category. Boiling increases the bioavailability of nutrients and phytochemicals in some vegetables. Some are best to eat in raw form.

HOW TO COOK VEGETABLES (RECOMMENDED METHOD)

We recommend the following cooking method:

  1. Chop vegetables in small cubes.
  2. Take clay pot or a suitable pan.
  3. Roast cumin seeds in a pan.
  4. Add some water and chopped vegetables.
  5. Cook on low flame/heat until vegetables become soft.
  6. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Puree: For making puree, take tomatoes, green chilies, fresh ginger, black pepper, turmeric, green cardamom seeds and cinnamon in a blender. Blend the mixture and make the puree. You can also add this puree along with vegetables in the 4th step. Cook the puree along with vegetables. It makes vegetables little tastier. In nature cure, the puree is recommended to add in the end.
  8. Add this puree in cooked vegetables (if not added in 4th step) and cover the pan with a lid for 10 minutes.
  9. Now chop coriander leaves and mix chopped coriander leaves in cooked vegetables.

AYURVEDIC COOKING (NOT RECOMMENDED)

Ayurveda advises adding fat to vegetables. Because it reduces Vata’s Aggravating properties of vegetables. Not all vegetables increase Vata dosha. A few vegetables do so. We recommend adding fat in the natural form instead of oils if you follow this method. You can add any from the following list:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Char Magaz
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts

Soak Nuts and Seeds: Make sure you soak nuts for at least 6-8 hours before using them. Soaking helps to improve the bioavailability of nutrient and digestibility of nuts and seeds.

Choose Native Nuts and Seeds: You can also add other nuts and seeds native to your area. There is no restriction. They should be edible and safe to consume. We recommended the amount for nuts and seeds in dietary guidelines. But it may differ for individual nuts. For example, brazil nuts contain a high amount of selenium, so you should not take more than one brazil nut a day. So, make sure to check individual recommendation for each nuts and seeds. Check our future nut guide and seeds guide.

There is a specific method described in ayurveda for a few vegetables. It applies to vegetables, which aggravates Vata Dosha and produces dryness in the body.

Generally, it includes a few leafy green vegetables, e.g., spinach, Jivanti leaves, Bathua (goosefoot), barley leaves, Chakramarda leaves (sicklepod), etc.

There are three steps:

  1. Boiling or Steaming.
  2. Squeezing steamed vegetables to remove residual water.
  3. Fortifying with a healthy fat.

How to Cook in Ayurvedic Way

  1. Boil these vegetables in water.
  2. Filter and discard the residual water and keep boiled or steamed vegetables.
  3. Now add 2-3 tablespoons of the recommended paste/cream of overnight soaked nuts or seeds.

Note: The method is modified slightly. Instead of oils, we highly recommend using nuts paste/cream or seeds paste/cream. This method is the healthiest and makes your veggies delicious.

How to Make Nut & Seed Cream/Paste

Nuts or Seeds (Overnight soaked)¼ cup
Water¼ cup
  1. Take any nuts or seeds locally available in your country.
  2. Put ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of nuts or seeds in the blender.
  3. Blend on high speed until it becomes a paste-like consistency.
  4. We name it nut cream and seed cream.

Recommended Amount of Nuts/Seeds Paste

1-2 tablespoons in 450 grams of cooked vegetables.

Ayurveda does not describe the amount of any food. It depends on how much you involve in physical work. In the current era, you should take care of your daily recommendations. Check Dietary Guidelines to know the Recommended Daily Amount for most food groups.

ARGUMENT

Most ayurvedic doctors use the above verses for the argument to advise using oil for cooking vegetables. I strongly disagree. Ancient scenarios and current scenarios are vastly different. Our ancestors were physically active whole the day.

Oil impairs the functions of the blood vessels. Even the world’s healthiest oil (extra virgin olive oil) also impairs the natural function of arteries to relax and dilates, according to research studies. These effects can be observed within a few hours of consuming oils. Therefore, all oils are bad for health. (Reference 1Reference 2) It does not happen with healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds. (Reference 3Reference 4)

According to the principles of Ayurveda, your body already stores a lot of fat, Kapha dosha, and Ama Dosha, due to less physical work and bad dietary habits. Microchannels in your body also develop blockage due to excess Ama and Kapha dosha.

Even if it appears you suffer from Vata Disease, it is because Ama Dosha and Kapha dosha block the passage of Vata. It is not due to dryness in micro-channels. It is not pure Vata disease. Your diseases are a mix of three doshas. It applies to more than 75% of cases, according to my clinical experience in Ayurveda. So, what you need – a variety of food.

Dryness of micro-channels will not occur if you consume various foods in the recommended daily amount mentioned in dietary guidelines.

Importance of Choosing Variety of Vegetables

Each type of vegetable has different effects on the three doshas: some increase Vata, some pitta, and some Kapha. The key recommendation is to include a variety of vegetables in your daily diet without concerning about dosha. A variety of vegetables will nullify each other effects on the dosha and maintains their balance while providing complete nourishment.