Health Plus

Subgroups of Vegetables

Most Americans don't eat the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables each day. Research has shown that eating more vegetables can lead to a longer lifespan and lower body weight. This naturally low-calorie food group is full of essential vitamins and minerals. To maximize the benefits, eat a variety throughout the week from each of the five subgroups. Note that some vegetables can fall into more than one subgroup. For example, sweet potatoes can be categorized in both the starchy and the red/orange subgroups. View this guide to help you keep track.

  1. Dark Green Vegetables - Green vegetables are high in vitamins C and K, and iron. Some green vegetables are also high in B-vitamins, which support heart health. Try to eat 1½ to 2 cups of dark green vegetables each week.
  2. Red and Orange Vegetables - You may have already heard that carrots are a great source of Vitamin A, which promotes eye health. They contain carotenoids, along with red and orange bell peppers and tomatoes. Carotenoids are antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Try to eat 5-6 cups each week from this brightly-colored subgroup.
  3. Beans and Legumes - Beans, lentils, and peas are a good source of protein. They also contain high amounts of fiber, folate, and potassium. Try to eat 1-2 cups from this subgroup each week.
  4. Starchy Vegetables - Starchy vegetables are higher in calories and carbohydrates than most other vegetables. However, they still have nutritional value. Potatoes contain potassium and corn provides fiber. Eat 4-6 cups of starchy vegetables each week.
  5.  Other Vegetables - This subgroup includes the vegetables that don't fit into any of the above categories. Think of light green and yellow vegetables like cabbage, celery, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, lettuce, summer squash, and zucchini. This subgroup also includes mushrooms, onions, and cauliflower. It is recommended that you eat 4-5 cups from this category each week.

What is the key takeaway?
We need to eat a variety of vegetables to be healthy. Remember, some vegetables can be in more than one subgroup. Try to eat at least one serving of each of the five subgroups each week. For more ideas on the best ways to cook vegetables, check out the Cook Smarts Guide to Cooking Vegetables.

Challenge
Eat at least one vegetable from each subgroup over the next week. 

Bonus Challenge
If you already eat lots of vegetables, find a new recipe that includes a new vegetable!

Recipes
Southwest Salad Stuffed Sweet Potatoes