Reasons to eat more vegetables, even if you don't want to

Reasons to eat more vegetables, even if you don't want to

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  • There's a long list of reasons to add more vegetables into your diet.
  • While some might be obvious - like helping you to lose weight - others, like the emotional aspects, aren't as intuitive.
  • Here is why, according to health and wellness experts, you should load your plate with vegetables, even if you don't want to.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Americans have a lover affair with foods filled with fat, salt, and sugar.
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For some people, eating unhealthy foods is a result of not knowing which ones are good or bad for them. For others, it may be a primary emotional coping mechanism.
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But it's important to remember that no matter the emotion, whether it be stress, anger, boredom, loneliness, or something else, it can't be filled with food.

In fact, a diet high in processed foods and low in vegetables has been associated with depression, whereas a diet high in fresh produce has been linked to an improvement in mental health.

There's clearly a long list of reasons to add more vegetables into your diet. While some might be obvious - like having an easier time slipping into skinny jeans you bought last year - others, like the emotional aspects, aren't as intuitive.
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We reached out to health and wellness experts and asked them to share reasons why you should load your plate with vegetables, even if you don't want to.

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You'll be happier

You'll be happier

An oft-quoted 2016 study showed that increased vegetable consumption was correlated with more happiness and life satisfaction, but there are many more where that came from. In fact, just earlier this year a new study was published that showed there was a strong connection between eating vegetables and improved mental health.

Read more: The 12 healthiest lettuces and leafy greens for you, ranked

"As vegetables increase in the diet, happiness might be a change that is noticed before specific physical changes in the body, so I always tell people to consider eating vegetables an investment in happiness," Naomi Whittel, a wellness expert and author of "Glow15," told Business Insider.

It will boost brain health

It will boost brain health

"Veggies such as avocado, tomatoes, kale, and spinach have antioxidants that are known to help reduce inflammation and have the ability to protect your vital organs such as your brain," Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a dietitian with the chickpea pasta brand Banza, told Business Insider. "These nutrients are also key drivers for optimal brain functioning and mood stability."

Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach have been particularly singled for their ability to slow memory decline.

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You'll sleep better

You'll sleep better

Several studies have looked at the association between vegetable consumption and sleep length and quality.

"It's no surprise that more veggies equals better sleep as the micronutrients in vegetables help to promote healthy circadian rhythms," Whittel said. "Better sleep means better work ability and efficiency, so eat those veggies and get your Z's."

You'll have a higher attention span

You'll have a higher attention span

"When your blood sugar is out of balance due to overconsumption of sugar and highly refined foods, it can lead to insulin resistance," nutrition educator Tarah Chieffi told Business Insider. "Over time, and especially if this develops into type 2 diabetes, executive function, and attention can all be affected, so it's important to load your plate every day with a variety of fresh vegetables."

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You'll have more energy

You'll have more energy

"Green veggies contain folate and other B vitamins that support metabolism and the feeling of energy throughout the day," Whittel said. "It's simple to add a handful of spinach when you are heating up leftovers or making a smoothie."

Read more: A sugar expert reveals 3 popular foods with a disgusting amount of hidden sugar

You'll be better equipped to fight inflammation

You'll be better equipped to fight inflammation

It is amazing to see firsthand what eating vitamin-rich vegetables can do to your body, said Amy Lacey, founder and CEO of Cali'flour Foods.

"After being diagnosed with lupus, it was an "aha!" moment for me when I realized that eating vegetables would help with my inflammation," Lacey told Business Insider. "To have more energy and be able to heal from the inside out, it proves that vegetables can drastically improve your wellbeing."

Read more: We tried the exact same salad from Chop't and Sweetgreen and the winner was clear

This discovery let Lacey to develop her brand, which makes cauliflower-based crackers, pastas, pizzas, and more.

"Cauliflower takes on the flavors of anything you put with it, making it unique and easy to swap for any flour substitute. Besides helping me fight inflammation, it's full of antioxidant and vitamins, so I'm getting added nutrients without even realizing I'm eating vegetables."

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Your digestive health will be improved

Your digestive health will be improved

As mentioned, eating a diet rich in vegetables ensures that you have enough fiber in your diet. Fiber is not only important for keeping blood-sugar levels in check, but for digestive health, too.

"Fiber fuels the good bacteria in your gut," Gabriela Peacock, nutritionist and founder of GP Nutrition, told Business Insider.

If you don't eat enough vegetables, she said, you're likely to experience bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues.

"Consuming too few vegetables and too much sugar can also negativity impact digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn's disease," Thyrion said.

You'll improve your mental clarity and focus

You'll improve your mental clarity and focus

"The phytonutrients — meaning the plant nutrients — associated with the different colors of veggies are often potent antioxidants that help to protect and support mental clarity and focus," Whittel said. "Up your colorful produce with vegetables like purple cabbage, beets and radishes."

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You'll save money

You'll save money

Fill up your cart with veggies instead of processed foods and meats and watch your grocery bill go down, while your nutrition and health goes up.

"To save even more, shop in season, grow your own or buy in bulk," Whittel said.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables also means you'll save in the long term as vegetables contribute to overall health in a way that processed foods will never be able to.

Your blood-sugar levels will be more balanced

Your blood-sugar levels will be more balanced

Vegetables are high in fiber, the indigestible part of carbohydrate that adds bulk to food — meaning it helps keep you full without adding inches to your waist. It also slows down the rate sugar enters your bloodstream.

"If you have hormonal imbalances, depression, anxiety, or digestive disorders, this is an important one," Rebecca Thyrion, a wellness specialist at the fitness platform MindBody, told Business Insider. "Many hormonal imbalances are related to insulin resistance, meaning your body has a difficult time regulating its blood sugar, and this can be worsened by excessive sugar intake. So it's very important to load up on fiber-rich vegetables and cut down on sugar."

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You'll be more productive

You'll be more productive

Processed foods are addicting and that can be a huge distraction.

"If you can't get going in the morning without a sugary coffee drink or you're constantly thinking about the pastries in the break room, it can affect your productivity at work," Chieffi said. "When you break that dependence by eating more balanced meals, high in nutrient-dense vegetables, you'll be able to better focus on the task at hand."