Summer time is here and the grocery stores are full of fresh vegetables. Stores display them usually as one of the first items seen as people enter the door. They look delicious, taste great and provide many of the necessary nutrients needed in one’s diet. Today we will discuss seven facts about vegetables including information when shopping and storing fresh vegetables. This information is especially informative for people with diabetes.

seven fresh vegetable tips for people with diabetes1.    Buy only what is needed
Fresh vegetables are delicious but also fragile. It is tempting to fill your basket up with them. Be careful to buy only what you need as they do not last long. Buy healthy looking vegetables that are free of bruises and punctures. Do not buy fresh vegetables that show any signs of mold or decay. When plant tissue is damaged, microorganisms and foodborne pathogens have a more favorable growth medium. This is a major safety concern. (1)  How long can you safely store some of the most popular vegetables once purchased?  

2.    Tips for buying individual vegetables
Wholesomeness, quality, nutritive value, convenience, methods of use, and informative labeling are some of the point to consider when purchasing fresh vegetables, says the United States Department of Agriculture in its How to Buy Fresh Vegetables write-up. 

3.    Separate your vegetables from meats
In your shopping cart, separate vegetables from your meat. Put your vegetables and meat in separate bags to travel home.  The vegetables that require refrigeration should be stored in separate areas of your refrigerator. Use different cutting boards for meats and vegetables. You do not want to cross-contaminate your vegetables with uncooked meat that may harbor bacteria. 

4.    Information on ethylene
At home, your fresh vegetables will spoil quickly if they are stored with fruits that release ethylene. This gas promotes the ripening of fruits which actually makes them softer and sweeter. Ethylene also speeds up the deterioration of vegetables. Here’s a quick list of Ethylene producing fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to this fruit ripening byproduct.  

5.    Wash your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing fresh vegetables. Always wash and scrub your fresh vegetables before eating them even if your vegetables will be peeled before they are consumed. (2) 

6.    Amount of vegetables recommended every day
The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 3-5 servings of non-starchy vegetables a day (more is better for many people). A serving of non-starchy vegetables is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup of raw. This amount usually contains less than five grams of carbohydrate and 25 calories. The University of Arkansas has a great exchange list including non-starchy vegetables.

7.    Starchy vegetables and diabetes
Starchy vegetables in moderation can be consumed as part of a meal plan for people with diabetes. Care must be taken to measure the quantity of starchy vegetables eaten. One-half-cup of vegetables like corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams have approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate. It is easy to go over your carbohydrate budget if you like these foods and are not mindful of quantities consumed.

It is sad to report that less than 28 percent of Americans eat at least 3 servings of vegetables per day. (3) Count the number of servings you eat. Ask your dietitian if you should eat at least 5 servings of the non-starchy kind per day. To get scrumptious recipes using vegetables, visit our healthy recipe center. Personally, I love eating vegetables. I eat them with my meals and as snacks. Yummy, small tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli are comfort foods for me. Post a comment and tell me what your favorites are. I would love to know!