Just one daily serving could significantly reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in adulthood - conditions that can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, according to researchers in Finland and Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Their study followed 2000 children over a 27-year period, examining their diet and exercise habits.
Those who frequently ate vegetables in childhood were less likely to develop blood pressure, cholesterol and overweight problems.
Children who ate vegetables just once a week or less had a higher risk of high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels, a type of fat found in blood, regardless of whether they consumed vegetables as adults.
Murdoch institute researcher Dr Matt Sabin said children should be encouraged to eat vegetables every day to avoid disease in adulthood.
"We also found no specific age that this effect related to, meaning childhood vegetable consumption is probably really important at all ages," he said.
Previous research from the same study of children from Finland found food choices were established in early childhood.
The research was published in Diabetes Care.