By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
How often do you eat kale, spinach, collard greens, and
other dark green vegetables? Daily? A few times a week? Once a week? Monthly?
If you live in the United States and answered “daily,” you’re among the
approximately 26% of Americans who eat dark green vegetables every day.1
The other 74% of Americans eat them less often. Maybe if you’re vegan, you eat
dark green vegetables more often. A study of Seventh-day Adventists found that
vegans ate about 40% more leafy green vegetables daily than did nonvegetarians.2
Why eat dark
green vegetables? They’re a good way to get nutrients like calcium (true of
greens other than spinach), iron, vitamin C, and potassium as well as a variety
of phytonutrients. They can be prepared
quickly or eaten raw or cooked long and slow, if you prefer. Try a massaged kale salad with a lime-tahini
dressing or collards with tomatoes and garlic, or shred greens and add to soups
Red and orange
vegetables like carrots, red peppers, and tomatoes are eaten more commonly than
dark green vegetables. In the United States, 79% of adults on average eat red
and orange vegetables daily.1 How about you? Dark orange vegetables
are especially noteworthy for their vitamin A content and tomatoes for
supplying lycopene and vitamin C. Vitamin A is needed for a healthy immune
system; lycopene and vitamin C are antioxidants.
So, crunch a
carrot, steam some kale, slice some tomatoes – let’s try to eat dark green and
red or orange vegetables every day!
1. Ansai N, Wambogo EA. Fruit and vegetable consumption
among adults in the United States, 2015–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 397.
Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2021. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.15620/cdc:100470
2. Orlich MJ, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Sabaté J, Fan J, Singh PN,
Fraser GE. Patterns of food consumption among vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Br
J Nutr. 2014;112:1644-1653.
For recipes using leafy green vegetables see vrg.org/journal/vj2001may/2001_may_greens.php
For recipes using carrots see vrg.org/journal/vj2003issue1/2003_issue1_carrot.php
For more on U.S. vegetable consumption see vrg.org/blog/2021/05/21/do-you-eat-close-to-17-pounds-of-carrots-a-year/