Dietary guidance aimed at increasing consumption of vegetables has had limited success. Despite extensive nutrition education efforts, Americans continue to fall short of daily goals for total vegetable intake, as well as for the majority of the vegetable subgroup recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A new approach may be needed to help improve vegetable intake. The present analysis compares the nutrient content of commonly consumed vegetables in the United States to identify the vegetables among these that provide the most key nutrients in the greatest amounts. The results confirm that all selections within the vegetable group are not nutritionally interchangeable, supporting a targeted education approach that would encourage consumers to choose the most nutrient-rich options among the vegetables they currently eat most often. This approach underscores the Dietary Guidelines recommendation to choose more nutrient-dense foods within and among food groups, a strategy already being used to encourage specific nutrient-dense choices within other foods groups. Nutrition professionals can continue to emphasize variety within the vegetable group and vegetable subgroups while offering additional guidance on choosing vegetables that provide the most nutrients and, for individuals who find it difficult to increase their vegetable intake, substituting nutrient-rich vegetables for those with fewer nutrients. The potential benefits include greater intakes of nutrients identified as falling short in the diets of Americans
Comparisons between vegetables on their nutrient content
Betsy A. Hornick, MS, RD, is a nutrition writer and consultant, specializing in food, nutrition, and health communications.
Liz Weiss, MS, RD, is coauthor of The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers and www.MealMakeoverMoms.com.
This work was supported by Bush Brothers & Company.
One of the authors is a member of FoodMinds' expert network. FoodMinds, LLC, is a food and nutrition affairs company that represents a range of food, nutrition, and wellness organizations, including Bush Brothers & Company. One of the authors is a member of an expert advisory panel for Bush Brothers & Company.
Correspondence: Betsy A. Hornick, MS, RD, 3016 Fairchild St, Poplar Grove, IL 61065 (firstname.lastname@example.org).