Not all veggies are created equal.
We all know veggies are healthy, but which ones are the healthiest to include in your daily diet?
“All vegetables offer health-promoting properties and compounds that reduce the risk of disease,” says Lon Ben-Asher MS, RD, LD/N, at Pritikin Longevity Center. “However, some vegetables are more nutrient-dense and functional than others, and I encourage people to include them [those] in their eating plan every day.”
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating about 2 to 3 cups of colorful vegetables per day, and you can optimize that veggie intake by picking vegetables with a top notch nutrient profile. That is, vegetables that are packed with nutritious compounds such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients. “These promote our health and ward off disease,” Ben-Asher says. Vegetables high in dietary fiber and water content can also help keep us feeling fuller longer.
Ready to fill up on veggies? Here are some of the healthiest vegetables to eat everyday.
Related:The 12 Healthiest Fruits To Eat, According to the Pros
Broccoli is one of the healthiest greens you can eat! “Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has been known to be cancer-fighting,” says Ben-Asher. “It is also a great source of vitamin C, which is important for our immune system, and potassium, which has been associated with promoting cardiovascular health and reducing blood pressure.” Try whole broccoli in a Tangy Broccoli Slaw, or with pasta in this Orecchiette With Roasted Broccoli recipe.
“Cauliflower contains compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have also been associated with cancer-fighting,” says Ben-Asher. It is also a great source of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Try roasted cauliflower, grilled or turned into cauliflower rice—a popular grain substitute.
“Brussels sprouts contain a compound called kaempferol, which is also associated with cancer-fighting properties and is anti-inflammatory,” says Ben-Asher. “It’s known to support cardiovascular, gut, and metabolic health, and is a great source of folate, vitamins C and K, potassium, and magnesium.” Brussels sprouts are great as a salad, or simply roasted in the oven.
Related:The 30 Healthiest Foods to Eat Every Day
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green veggies, including spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, should all be part of your typical diet. “These contain compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, and are a great source of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene, which supports cardiovascular and ocular health,” notes Ben-Asher. Try adding leafy green veggies to a smoothie to make it easier to consume, or stir a handful into stir fries, sauces, pasta, or rice dishes for an added boost.
Beans, Lentils, and Peas
“These are high plant-based protein sources without the saturated fats and dietary cholesterol found in most high protein animal-based foods,” says Ben-Asher. “They’re also a great source of potassium, which supports cardiovascular health and reduces blood pressure, and contains a high amount of soluble fiber, which supports reducing cholesterol levels and metabolic health by the gelling effect in the gut. This slows digestion of glucose, thus improving blood sugar control, as well as digestive health, by promoting more beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome.”
“Sweet potatoes contain all naturally occurring sugars, making them a great alternative to heavily sweetened foods with added sugars,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “One medium sweet potato provides around 115 calories and 4 grams of blood-sugar-balancing fiber. Sweet potatoes are packed with beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. In addition, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Prioritize purchasing whole sweet potatoes over processed fries or chips.”
Related:48 Easy and Delicious Recipes for Sweet Potato Lovers
“Fresh mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse filled with immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin D, selenium, zinc, copper, and B vitamins,” says Burgess. “As an example, just four cremini mushrooms provide 44 percent of your recommended dietary allowance for copper, and 38 percent for selenium—two nutrients that help prevent cell damage and keep our immune system healthy. Mushrooms are also the only food in the produce section that features vitamin D. Just a handful of UV-exposed mushrooms can be an excellent source of vitamin D, which is very helpful considering over 40 percent of the population may be deficient. I love making caramelized mushrooms to pair with homemade burgers or quinoa salads.”
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