"Vegetables are well-known for being good for your health. Most vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
However, some vegetables stand out from the rest with additional proven health benefits, such as the ability to fight inflammation or reduce the risk of disease.
This article takes a look at 14 of the healthiest vegetables and why you should include them in your diet.
This leafy green tops the chart as one of the healthiest vegetables, thanks to its impressive nutrient profile.
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 56% of your daily vitamin A needs plus your entire daily vitamin K requirement — all for just 7 calories.
Summary: Spinach is rich in antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic disease, as it may reduce risk factors such as high blood pressure.
Carrots are packed with vitamin A, providing 428% of the daily recommended value in just one cup (128 grams).
Carrots are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium.
Summary: Carrots are especially high in beta-carotene, which can turn into vitamin A in the body. Their high antioxidant content may help reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer.
In addition to its ability to prevent disease, broccoli is also loaded with nutrients.
A cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 116% of your daily vitamin K needs, 135% of the daily vitamin C requirement and a good amount of folate, manganese and potassium.
Summary: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains sulforaphane, a compound that may prevent cancer growth. Eating broccoli may also help reduce the risk of chronic disease by protecting against oxidative stress.
Summary: Studies show that garlic may help lower blood triglyceride levels. Some studies have also found that it could decrease blood sugar levels and may have an anti-cancer effect, although more research is needed.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and contain the same health-promoting plant compounds. Brussels sprouts are very nutrient-dense. Each serving provides a good amount of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium.
Summary: Brussels sprouts contain an antioxidant called kaempferol, which may protect against oxidative damage to cells and prevent chronic disease. They may also help enhance detoxification in the body.
Like other leafy greens, kale is well-known for its health-promoting qualities, including its nutrient density and antioxidant content. A cup (67 grams) of raw kale contains plenty of B vitamins, potassium, calcium and copper. It also fulfills your entire daily requirement for vitamins A, C and K. Due to its high amount of antioxidants, kale may also be beneficial in promoting heart health.
Summary: Kale is high in vitamins A, C and K as well as antioxidants. Studies show that drinking kale juice could reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.
7. Green Peas
Summary: Green peas contain a good amount of fiber, which helps support digestive health. They also contain plant compounds called saponins, which may have anti-cancer effects.
8. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is low in calories but high in many essential vitamins and minerals.
One cup (36 grams) contains just 7 calories yet 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein and lots of vitamins A, C and K, manganese and magnesium.
Summary: Some animal studies show that Swiss chard could protect against the negative effects of diabetes and may decrease blood sugar levels.
Summary: Studies show that ginger could reduce nausea and alleviate inflammation. Ginger supplements may also help decrease blood sugar.
This spring vegetable is rich in several vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent addition to any diet. Just half a cup (90 grams) of asparagus provides one-third of your daily folate needs. This amount also provides plenty of selenium, vitamin K, thiamin and riboflavin.
Summary: Asparagus is especially high in folate, which may help prevent neural tube birth defects. Test-tube studies have also found that asparagus can support liver function and reduce the risk of toxicity.
11. Red Cabbage
This vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and, much like its relatives, is brimming with antioxidants and health-promoting properties. One cup (89 grams) of raw red cabbage contains 2 grams of fiber as well as 85% of the daily vitamin C requirement.
Summary: Red cabbage contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Certain studies show that red cabbage may decrease blood cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and prevent heart and liver damage.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Classified as a root vegetable, sweet potatoes stand out for their vibrant orange color, sweet taste and impressive health benefits. One medium sweet potato contains 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. It’s also high in a form of vitamin A called beta-carotene. In fact, one sweet potato fulfills 438% of your daily vitamin A needs.
Summary: Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which may decrease the risk of some types of cancer. White sweet potatoes could also help reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
13. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a very nutrient-rich vegetable. One cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens contains 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 27% of your daily calcium needs. In fact, collard greens are one of the best plant sources of calcium available, along with other leafy greens, broccoli and soybeans. Adequate calcium intake from plant sources can promote bone health and has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Summary: Collard greens are high in calcium, which could reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The regular intake of collard greens has also been associated with a reduced risk of glaucoma and prostate cancer.
Summary: Kohlrabi is rich in both fiber and vitamin C. Animal studies show that kohlrabi could potentially cause a reduction in blood sugar.
The Bottom Line
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All the best Jan