Everybody knows vegetables are good for you. You can probably name some of these benefits right now! They help you grow big and strong, give you energy, and give you the nutrients your body needs. However, there are other benefits to eating your greens than the obvious. Do you know them? Read on to find out more!

1. Improve your skin and appearance

Lots of vegetables contain a nutrient called beta carotene. This special nutrient is also known as a provitamin – meaning that it is formulated in a way that allows our bodies to convert it into a vitamin! In this case, beta carotene gets converted into Vitamin A, which has several health benefits. First and foremost, it acts as a sort of “sunblock” by helping to strengthen our skin cells against UV rays (Stahl & Sies, 2012). This can help prevent sunburn, wrinkles, dry skin – even cell death! All of this helps your skin look smooth, young, and healthy. Beta carotene can usually be found in yellow or orange foods, like carrots, sweet potatoes, or sweet bell pepper, and also in vegetables such as spinach.

2. Have a healthy gut

Did you know that you have millions of good bacteria in your gut, working tirelessly to keep you and your body healthy? Some of them might not be good, but without good bacteria and a healthy diet, our body would not cultivate good bacteria. One of the best ways to help ensure that your gut stays healthy is by eating a large and wide variety of vegetables. This gives your body lots of fibre and helps encourage healthy and beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, which can help prevent inflammation in your gut! Some of the best high-fibre, gut-healthy vegetables you can eat are artichokes, green peas, broccoli, lentils and beans (Fissore et al., 2015; Hidalgo-Cantabrana et al.,2017).

3. Reduce your risk for cancer

There are loads of vegetables that have some ability in reducing our risk of developing certain cancers. Evidence suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, can help reduce your risk of cancers that affect the head and neck, the oesophagus, and the stomach (Food and Cancer Risk, 2021). Research also shows that eating a healthy amount of fibre can reduce the risk of gut-targeting cancers (Food and Cancer Risk, 2021). Another type of nutrient called lycopene (a carotenoid found in tomato products and watermelon) helps in reducing the risk of cancers targeting the mouth and throat, lung, stomach, prostate, colon, and oesophagus (Food and Cancer Risk, 2021). As can be identified these vegetables (and more!) are so important for maintaining our health!

4. Help control diabetes

Diabetes is a pretty serious illness affecting the body’s ability to process glucose. Usually, people who have diabetes have to take insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, every day. However, it can also be controlled to a point through diet and exercise. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are low in calories but high in nutrients, which means that they do not have a huge effect on blood sugar but still provide loads of nutrition (Wilson et al., 2017). Furthermore, research shows that vegetables like broccoli help in reducing blood sugar in people with diabetes (Axelsson et al., 2017). Thus, eating vegetables can be life-changing in managing chronic illnesses such as

5. Improve your mood

Last, but not least, eating vegetables can also be extremely beneficial for mental health and mood, rather than simply physical health. There is a wealth of knowledge that suggests that eating a varied diet of fruits and vegetables can help reduce depressive
symptoms, help improve sleep quality, improve self-esteem, aid in improving happiness, and even more (Głąbska et al., 2020). This may be in part due to some vegetables having a lot of folic acids, which can improve serotonin and dopamine levels, the hormones that are considered responsible for happiness and other elevated moods. Keeping healthy practices is one of the best ways to feel healthy – and that feels pretty

As you can see, vegetables have many benefits for both physical and mental health! Thus, make sure to have a portion or two of vegetables as part of your five-a-day.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Genevieve Wight is an intern and volunteer at Willingness. She is currently completing her Masters in Health and Medical Psychology at Leiden University.

References :
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Derry, J. M., Wollheim, C. B., Wierup, N., Haymond, M. W., Friend, S. H., Mulder, H.,
& Rosengren, A. H. (2017). Sulforaphane reduces hepatic glucose production and
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Fissore, E. N., Santo Domingo, C., Gerschenson, L. N., & Giannuzzi, L. (2015). A study of
the effect of dietary fiber fractions obtained from artichoke (Cynara Cardunculus
L. var. Scolymus) on the growth of intestinal bacteria associated with health. Food
& Function, 6(5), 1667–1674. https://doi.org/10.1039/c5fo00088b

Food and Cancer Risk. Cancer.Net. (2021, January 29). Retrieved July 15, 2022, from

Głąbska, D., Guzek, D., Groele, B., & Gutkowska, K. (2020). Fruit and vegetable intake
and mental health in adults: A systematic review. Nutrients, 12(1), 115. https://

Hidalgo-Cantabrana, C., Delgado, S., Ruiz, L., Ruas-Madiedo, P., Sánchez, B., & Margolles,
A. (2017). Bifidobacteria and their health-promoting effects. Microbiology
Spectrum, 5(3). https://doi.org/10.1128/microbiolspec.bad-0010-2016

Stahl, W., & Sies, H. (2012). Β-carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(5). https://doi.org/10.3945/

Wilson, R., Willis, J., Gearry, R., Skidmore, P., Fleming, E., Frampton, C., & Carr, A. (2017).
Inadequate vitamin C status in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus:
Associations with glycaemic control, obesity, and smoking. Nutrients, 9(9), 997.