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Most people know that vegetables and fruits are healthy. But they’re often eaten as part of the diet because you “should.” Many tend to eat fruits more than vegetables, which brings up important questions: are vegetables more nutritious than fruits? How much should you be eating of each?
Carbohydrates In Vegetables and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of vitamins and minerals. They also widely differ on how much carbohydrate and fiber they contain.
While all fruits and vegetables are healthier than, say, white flour, you still need to be mindful of the volume of carbs you’re taking in. You want this to be balanced in the bigger picture of your diet with healthy fats and protein.
When you’re choosing vegetables and fruits, consistently choosing lower starch options will provide the best long-term health benefits. One medium-sized cooked russet potato, for example, contains 37 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber. In comparison, one medium cooked sweet potato contains 31 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber. Two cooked medium parsnips, an equivalent portion comparison, contains 33 grams of carbohydrates but 7 grams of fiber.
Now let’s look at fruit. One medium-sized apple contains 25 grams of carbohydrates and 4.5 grams of fiber. One cup of blackberries contains 14 grams of carbohydrates and 7.5 grams of fiber. That’s quite a difference!
When you’re considering the carbohydrate content of a vegetable or fruit, make sure that you consider how much fiber it has. The higher the level of fiber, the less it will affect your blood sugar. Plus, consuming fiber is an important part of a gut-friendly diet.
While all vegetables and fruits offer nutrients, you get the most benefits when you choose lower-carb options that support healthy blood sugar. It’s also important to consider buying organic produce whenever available. (Is organic produce worth the cost? We’ll talk more about this in a future post!)
How Much Should You Eat Every Day?
Diets can vary widely in how much fruit or vegetables are eaten on a daily basis. The answer for how much you should eat every day depends on many factors.
- If you’re following a Paleo or Primal diet, your plate should be approximately 50 percent low-carb vegetables, with a small amount of low-carb fruit. This provides a significant amount of daily intake while still leaving room for the essential healthy fats and protein.
- A ketogenic diet will have far fewer vegetables and fruit in a day, but even in ketosis, you can and should eat low-starch vegetables and fruits for the fiber and nutrients they provide.
Most Americans don’t get nearly enough vegetables in their diets. Consider how much you normally eat, or whether you tend to only eat starchy vegetables like potatoes, and start adding lower-carb veggies to your plate every day.
Higher-starch vegetables can also be healthy but should be eaten in moderation. Low-starch vegetables include:
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
Lower carbohydrate fruits include:
Today’s Simple Step
While you don’t necessarily need to do this every day, purposefully choosing to double the portions of your normal vegetable intake is a great way to start increasing how much you eat. If you don’t normally eat vegetables with every meal, start. You don’t have to be perfect or obsessive about specific portion sizes. Anything you add is better and supports optimal nutrient levels, gut health, and overall wellness.
This Zucchini Salad is a simple, low-carb alternative to pasta salad. It preps quickly and will work well with any main dish.