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From a young age, most people are told that vegetables are really good for you and you must eat them...

But why? If I eat loads of vegetables for a week, and then the next week I eat nothing but burgers and fries I don't feel in the slightest bit different.

Different people have different tastes, but in my opinion, vegetables generally don't taste as good as a burger. Why have my taste buds evolved to like something that is bad for me and dislike something that's good for me. It doesn't make sense.

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    I would be quite surprised that you didn't feel any different when you took a trip to the jon; presumably one week having had a fiber overload, then the next mostly refined (digestible) carbs. – Nick T Mar 8 '11 at 2:46
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    Everything in moderation. It's that simple. Eat 20 kilos of cabbage a week and it's not good for you. Eat no veggies at all and it's also not good for you. – jwenting Mar 22 '11 at 6:55
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    “vegetables generally don't taste as good as a burger” – this can only be said by somebody who has not yet tasted a good ratatouille or moussaka. ;-) (Nothing against a good burger either …) – Konrad Rudolph Mar 22 '11 at 13:12
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    pizzas are now considered vegetables (note: not worldwide) – ajax333221 Jan 23 '12 at 4:39
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    @ajax: US congress did not, as was widely reported, declare that pizzas are vegetables. They declared that 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce contained the equivalent of 1 serve of vegetables, for the purpose of law. – Oddthinking Aug 23 '12 at 5:11
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From a young age, most people are told that vegetables are really good for you and you must eat them

Most vegetables are very good for your health - they are high in fiber an d contain essential vitamins and minerals. Also, most vegetables are low calorie and all are cholesterol-free.

The Harvard School of Public Heath notes that: "Most people should aim for at least nine servings (at least 4½ cups) of vegetables and fruits a day," and that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables provides the following benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers
  • Lower risk of eye and digestive problems
  • A mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check

The United States Department of Agriculture lists the following benefits from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables:

  • Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease and is important for proper bowel function.
  • Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Eating vegetables rich in potassium may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and may help to decrease bone loss.

In my opinion, vegetables generally don't taste as good as a burger. Why so why have my taste buds evolved to like something that is bad for me and dislike something that's good for me. It doesn't make sense.

Our taste buds have evolved to identify high calorie items as tasty - sugar, fats, and protein. These types of food provide a much higher ratio of calories per gram. For much of our evolutionary history, given a choice between a fatty slab of meat and broccoli, those ancestors that chose the steak would have gained more calories and thereby increased their odds of not starving to death. Consequently, these genes got passed down the evolutionary tree.

Eating unhealthily is not the only example of things that feel good, but are bad for you. Take exercise. In our prehistoric past, a human who exerted less energy would have a greater chance at survival as he'd require less calories per day. A caveman would not needlessly run a half marathon for exercise or sport; rather, he'd conserve his energy with a more lax task - tool making or story telling. As a result, it "feels better" to sit down in front of the computer or TV than it does to go to the gym, but we know that such a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy, especially given our high-calorie and unhealthy diets.

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    "Most vegetables are very good for your health" -- uhm... nope. There are a lot of reasons for this, but vegetables are not just the universally healthy picture you portray. – Russell Steen Feb 25 '11 at 4:37
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    @Russell: Care to expand? – Scott Mitchell Feb 25 '11 at 18:24
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    This is a much more comprehensive answer than mine. – David Gerard Mar 6 '11 at 10:49
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    Scott, could you please add references to your claim that there was an evolutionary advantage to eating steak, and how this lead to taste buds evolving to prefer sugar (amongst others)? – Oddthinking Jul 23 '11 at 0:14
  • "it feels better to sit down in front of the computer or TV than it does to go to the gym" - That's true only if you're unaccustomed to exercise and being healthy. – ChrisW May 6 '12 at 20:39
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Consuming vegetables has been associated with a decreased risk of some types of cancer, for example:

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The idea that your likes and dislikes are purely a function of evolution is where the flaw in your logic lies. A simple observation of the fact that you can take a child from a family and raise them in a drastically different culture where they will grow up loving food their parents hated should be enough to convince you that what you like is not purely hereditary.

To answer your question directly, yes they are good for you in that they provide essential vitamins. Like everything else you consume, they are good in the proper quantities, though I am not certain that we know exactly what those quantities are. If you doubt this, go on a strict meat and salt diet and let me know how the scurvy works out for you.

Copper is good for you... in the right quantity (reeeealllly tiny).

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