It’s no secret that vegetables, rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, are essential for a healthy diet. They’re also filling, flavorful, and great for a variety of dishes, such as salads, soups, smoothies, and sandwiches. While all vegetables are good for your health, some of them stand out for their nutrient content and powerful health benefits.
Here are 14 of the most nutritious vegetables.
This leafy green tops the list of the most nutritious vegetables. In fact, 1 cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A plus 120% of the DV of vitamin K, all for just 7 calories. Spinach also contains antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of disease. One study found that dark leafy vegetables like spinach are high in beta-carotene and lutein, two antioxidants linked to lower cancer risk. Another study suggests that spinach may benefit heart health by helping to lower blood pressure.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, providing 119% of the daily value in just one cup (128 grams). They also contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives them their bright orange color and can help prevent cancer. Your body converts this compound into vitamin A. In fact, a study of over 57,000 people linked consuming at least 2-4 carrots per week with a 17% reduction in long-term colorectal cancer risk. A review of 18 studies found that carrots may also reduce the risk of lung cancer. Finally, these popular root vegetables are packed with many other essential nutrients, including potassium and vitamins C and K.
Broccoli is rich in a vegetable sulfur compound called glucosinolate, as well as its by-product, sulforaphane. Researchers in animal and test-tube studies have extensively explored sulforaphane’s ability to protect against cancer. This cruciferous vegetable can also help prevent other types of chronic diseases.
A small study found that broccoli sprouts reduced the levels of several inflammation markers, which have been linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease. Just one cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 77% of the daily value of vitamin K, 90% of the daily value of vitamin C, and a good amount of folate, manganese and potassium.
Garlic has been used as a medicinal plant for millennia. Its main active compound is allicin, which has been shown to benefit blood sugar levels and heart health. In a three-month study of 90 people, those who took 1,600 mg of garlic powder per day experienced a significant reduction in belly fat and lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels than the placebo group. Garlic powder supplementation also improved insulin resistance, a condition that may contribute to type 2 diabetes. Another review of 33 studies found that garlic lowered cholesterol levels and improved control. blood sugar, which can help people with heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Also, while more research is needed, test-tube and animal studies suggest that allicin has potent anticancer properties.
5. Brussels sprouts
Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable and contain the same beneficial plant compounds. Brussels sprouts also contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that can be particularly effective in preventing cell damage. Kaempferol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, which can protect against disease. This vegetable is also an excellent source of fiber, an important nutrient that supports bowel regularity, heart health and blood sugar control. In addition, Brussels sprouts are very rich in nutrients. Each serving contains folic acid, magnesium, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K (19Trusted).
Like other green leafy vegetables, kale is renowned for its nutrient density and antioxidant content. Just one cup (21 grams) of raw cabbage contains potassium, calcium, copper, and vitamins A, B, C, and K. In a small study, eating cabbage alongside a high-carb meal was more effective at preventing sugar spikes. in the blood rather than eating a high-carbohydrate meal alone. Another study showed that drinking cabbage juice can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
Peas are starchy vegetables, which means they contain more carbohydrates and calories than non-starchy vegetables and can affect blood sugar when consumed in large quantities. However, peas are incredibly nutritious. Just one cup (160 grams) contains 9 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein and vitamins A, C, and K, as well as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and folic acid. Because they are high in fiber, peas support digestive health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and promoting regular bowel movements. Additionally, peas are rich in saponins, a group of plant compounds known for their anticancer effects. Although more studies are needed, some research suggests that saponins can reduce tumor growth and cause cancer cell death.
8. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is low in calories but high in essential vitamins and minerals. One cup (36 grams) has only 7 calories but nearly one gram of fiber, one gram of protein and plenty of manganese, magnesium, and vitamins A, C and K. Chard is also rich in antioxidants and plants that promote health. health compounds, including betalain and flavonoids. This vegetable may also help prevent the damage of type 2 diabetes, although human studies are needed.
Beets are a vibrant and versatile root vegetable that packs fiber, folate and manganese into each serving with very few calories. They’re also high in nitrates, which your body converts to nitric oxide, a compound that can help dilate blood vessels. The nitrates in beet juice can help lower blood pressure. In turn, this can reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, beets and their juice have been linked to improved stamina and athletic performance.
Asparagus is rich in numerous vitamins and minerals and is a great addition to any diet. Half a cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus provides 33% of the daily folate requirement, as well as a significant amount of selenium, vitamin K, thiamin and riboflavin. Getting enough folate from foods like asparagus can protect against disease and prevent irregularities in neural tube development during pregnancy. An animal study also suggests that asparagus extract protects against liver and kidney damage by reducing oxidative stress.
11. Red cabbage
Red cabbage is another cruciferous vegetable rich in antioxidants and beneficial properties. Just one cup (89 grams) of raw red cabbage contains 2 grams of fiber and 56% of the daily requirement for vitamin C. Red cabbage is also rich in anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds that contribute to its distinct color and numerous benefits.
In an animal study, red cabbage extract reversed oxidative stress in rats with high cholesterol levels.
12. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes stand out for their vibrant orange color, sweetness, and amazing health benefits. A medium sweet potato has around 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and a good amount of potassium, manganese, and vitamins B6 and C. This root vegetable is also rich in beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin. A. Indeed, a sweet potato contains 132% of the daily value of this vitamin. Furthermore, the consumption of beta-carotene is linked to a reduced risk of some cancers, including lung cancer. According to an analysis of 23 studies, sweet potatoes may be particularly effective in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
13. Green cabbage leaves
A single cup (130 grams) of cooked cabbage contains about 6 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 25% of the daily value of calcium. In fact, cabbage is one of the best plant sources of calcium, a mineral that plays a key role in muscle function, nerve transmission, hormone production, and bone health. Cabbage is also rich in antioxidants and can reduce the risk of some diseases. Interestingly, some research links increased consumption of certain vegetables, including cabbage, to a lower risk of glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to blindness. Another study associated increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, with an 8% and 19% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer, respectively.
Cauliflower is known for its versatility and excellent nutritional profile. Just one cup (155 grams) cooked contains 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and a variety of other important nutrients, including folic acid and vitamins C and K. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is a excellent source of compounds such as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, both of which have powerful anticancer properties. Cauliflower is also often used as a low-carb, low-calorie alternative to ingredients such as rice, potatoes, and flour. It can also promote weight loss. A 4-year study of over 133,000 people linked each daily serving of cauliflower to 2 pounds of weight loss.
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