With St. Patrick’s day this month, green isn’t just the color we’re wearing, it should be the color we’re eating. So often, people assume as long as they have only one vegetable in a meal, then it’s enough…but it’s actually not.

We are finding out more and more in studies that vegetables are Mother Nature’s anti-disease food group and so if all you have at a meal is only carrots or cauliflower and just a few of them, it’s definitely not enough.

For my patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA, I let my patients know that the goal is to aim for half a bag of those mixed green vegetables you buy at super market per meal if you can. That’s a rough estimate of how much you should be consuming.

Patients are always asking me if it’s better to eat a lot of one kind of vegetable and then vary that or if it’s better to eat a wide variety of vegetables at every meal, the answer is always that they should eat a wide variety. When you eat a wide variety, there’s less likelihood for things like too much oxalates or too much thyroid blocking vegetables or too much of the vegetables that cause more gas. When you eat a wide variety of vegetables, you are able to get a wide range of nutrients without having as many issues of getting too much of a good thing per se.

Some patients ask me whether it’s better to eat the vegetables or to juice them. The same concern can come with only juicing vegetables instead of eating them. I find that a lot of people then juice a lot of the same vegetables and then can be at higher risk for high oxalates or certain minerals or nutrients and not having enough of other minerals or nutrients. The way to avoid that if you really are a fan of juicing is to pre-measure out the types and amounts of vegetables you would otherwise be able to chew and eat and then just juice that so that you are getting a wide variety and not overdoing any one vegetable. I usually will recommend that people try to blend the vegetables to get the fibrous parts as well since we are learning that a lot of the fibrous parts are extremely nutritious and has tremendous health benefits.

While I did start this article saying we should consume more greens, I am by no means saying those are the only vegetables you should eat. In fact, when you aim to eat the colors of the rainbow in your vegetables and get all the wide health benefits of these colorful health gems, you’ll be much closer to achieving your optimal health.

It’s best to eat the colors of the rainbow in your vegetable intake so as to get a broad spectrum of nutrients. The reason I mentioned the greens in my opening of this article is that I’ve noticed that a lot of patients like only a few vegetables like carrots or only eggplant or only yellow pepper or some other types and complain that the leafy greens are too bitter and they don’t like the taste. My recommendation is to cook it with other vegetables that you like the flavor of and they can assimilate the other flavors. They are also great to put in soups like swiss chard in Italian sausage and bean soups, I’ve had a favorite soup in my local restaurant that does that and it’s A-mazing!

So, as you head into the Spring and Summer months and produce variety options broaden, take a closer look at your green leafy friends, they contain tremendous health benefits like iron and calcium and anti-inflammatory benefits…but remember to keep the variety in there and try to avoid too much of the high oxalate vegetables, then your glowing skin and body will be the envy of all during the upcoming warm months in the sun without having the issues of overdoing any one food type!