Is It Possible to Eat Too Many Vegetables?
04 Aug 2021
When you think of healthy eating, no doubt one of the first images that springs to mind is plates piled high with leafy greens and cruciferous clusters, with maybe the odd carrot, beet, or tomato* adding a splash of color. Vegetables are good for you. So is it possible to have too much of a good thing?
Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Read on.
Your body can’t handle all that fiber.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women should try to eat at least 21-25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30-38 grams a day. The average cup of vegetables contains 8 grams of fiber, which means 4-5 cups will put you over the bar. To put this in perspective, a small bowl typically holds about 3-4 cups.
Now bear in mind, this guideline from the Mayo Clinic is a suggested intake, not a maximum. Most people eat more fiber than recommended without suffering any negative consequences. The problem strikes when you eat more than your stomach can handle. At the very least, you end up suffering the unpleasant side effects of digestive distress, gas, bloating, and severe constipation.
Too much fiber can also lead to nutrient deficiencies. While your stomach is struggling with all those vegetables, it won’t be able to absorb nutrients from the other foods you’re eating. So too many vegetables could actually end up making your other food less healthy.
You can only process so much of the same nutrient at one time.
You know how taking a whole bunch of multivitamins doesn’t fill you up with nutrients? Same thing with eating too many vegetables. Once you reach a certain threshold, your body will simply stop processing the nutrients you’re putting into it.
So three to four servings of vegetables will provide you with the nutrients you need. Any more than that, and you’re getting a diminishing return.
Your body will *feel* full when you still need to eat.
Stuffing yourself with veggies is certainly a great way to feel full while minimizing your caloric intake. But it’s not really a healthy strategy in the long run. Your body needs protein, fats, and carbohydrates to stay healthy, so it’s important to leave room for them.
You could turn yourself orange.
Admittedly, this problem is minor compared to the others on the list. Many vegetables contain carotenoids—spinach, corn, kale, squash, carrots, tomatoes* and yams, to name a few. This compound, in proper amounts, can actually help keep your eyes healthy. However, if you eat too much, the carotenoids will get circulated through your bloodstream and end up discoloring your skin. The effect is only temporary and it’s not actually dangerous. However, when you’re already dealing with digestive distress and improper nutrition, turning yourself orange is simply a headache you don’t need.
So what’s the takeaway here? Vegetables are good for you and you should definitely make sure you’re eating *at least* the daily recommended amount. However, eating too many vegetables will diminish their nutritional benefit and will likely lead to issues ranging from the embarrassing to the downright harmful. As with any dietary choice, it’s important to show some restraint and common sense to ensure your body is getting everything it needs.
*Yes, we know tomatoes are technically fruits, not vegetables. Don’t be that guy.