What if a Person Eats Too Many Vegetables?

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A woman making a salad in the kitchen. (Image: nedjelly/iStock/Getty Images)

Most Americans eat less than half of the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, according to 2012 market research data cited by "USA Today." The recommended daily minimum for a 2,000-calorie diet is 2 1/2 cups of veggies, but what happens if you eat more? Mostly good things, including a reduced risk of disease -- however, there can be negative effects to compromising on variety in your diet for the sake of veggies.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Veggies are an excellent source of carbohydrates, but most of them don’t contain much fat or protein. If vegetables are the staple of your diet and you aren’t eating many that are rich in protein or fat, you could eventually develop deficiencies in those nutrients. Symptoms of protein deficiency can include dry skin, thinning hair, swelling, weakness, fatigue, muscle soreness, depression or anxiety, and slow recovery from injury or illness. Symptoms of not getting enough healthy fats can include dry skin, circulation problems, heart problems, trouble focusing or remembering, fatigue, mood swings and depression.

Mineral Absorption

Registered dietitian Debbie James notes that it's not possible to overdo it on nonstarchy vegetables, but eating only or mostly vegetables without a balance of other nutrients can present problems with absorbing essential minerals. Specifically, getting more than 50 grams of fiber from vegetables daily can impede your body’s ability to effectively absorb essential minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium, which your body can't produce on its own.

Digestive Effects

Almost all vegetables are high in dietary fiber, and another side effect of getting a lot of fiber is digestive discomfort that can include gas, bloating and cramps. That’s more likely to happen if you suddenly increase your intake of vegetables, such as if you switch from a low-fiber diet to an eating plan that is very high in fiber. Licensed nutritionist Monica Reinagel suggests backing off on veggies if you eat more than seven to 10 servings a day and you regularly experience digestive discomfort as a result.

Weight Gain

Although it’s tough to gain weight from vegetable calories alone, starchy vegetables provide an exception. Loyola University registered dietitian Brooke Schantz recommends limiting your intake of starchy veggies like potatoes, corn and peas, which have higher calorie counts than nonstarchy veggies and are thus more likely to contribute to weight gain. That assertion is backed up by the results of a study published in 2011 in “The New England Journal of Medicine,” which found that potatoes and potato chips were the two foods most strongly associated with weight gain in study subjects.

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