When it comes to vegetables, there are so many choices out there to choose from. All of them have their nutrient benefits. It’s just that some are more beneficial than others. The following should help you decide which ones to include more of in your diet.
Why Are Vegetables So Important?
Some veggies are loaded with nutrients and even have anti aging properties. According to the latest scientific studies, five servings a day of the most nutritious vegetables can not only help you to stay young, healthy and trim, they can also give you spectacular protection against cancer and heart disease.
So scientists keep telling us to eat more fruits and vegetables – five to nine a day. But the vast majority of the population aren’t even getting three, much less nine.
While most vegetables are low in calories and good for your body and overall health, some are definitely a whole lot better than others and offer many more vegetable nutrients.
The Most Nutritious Vegetables
Usually the best way to get your vegetable nutrients is to buy organically grown veggies and eat them raw, lightly steamed or in nutritious soups or stir-fries.
So here is that list of the top 10 most important and nutritious vegetables — in no particular order:
~ The Top 10 List ~
1st) - Green Leafy Vegetables -
Leafy green vegetables are ideal for weight management as they are typically low in calories. They are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type-2 diabetes. An increase of 1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, collard greens, spinach, parsley and dark green and red leaf lettuce are high in carotenoids and best eaten raw in salads, on healthy sandwiches, lightly steamed or in nutritious soups.
2nd) - Broccoli -
Broccoli has a growing reputation as a nutritional powerhouse. It is not only rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, but is loaded with antioxidants. It also contains generous amounts of folic acid, which may prevent some birth defects and be beneficial in warding off heart disease, strokes and some cancers. Broccoli also contains some of the highest levels of vitamins A and C of any food. It’s high levels of vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene provide us with a good intake of antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s also rich in iron as well as folic acid that helps to combat anemia. Broccoli is good steamed, raw (as a snack or in salads) and cooked in soups, stir-fries and other dishes. Both the green flower heads and stalks are nutritious.
3rd) – Brussels Sprouts -
Only about 10 calories each, Brussels Sprouts are low in fat and sodium, high in dietary fiber and are cholesterol-free. They also contain high levels of naturally occurring vitamin C and specific health-promoting compounds called glucosinolates with antioxidant properties, and proven health benefits in the area of cancer prevention. Brussels Sprouts have three times the level of vitamin C of an orange. Unlike most vegetables, Brussels Sprouts are rather high in protein, accounting for more than a quarter of their calories. Four-to-six sprouts contain the adult daily requirements for vitamin C. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin D and folic acid during pregnancy. Brussels Sprouts are best quickly steamed to preserve nutritional values and avoid releasing sulfur smells caused by excess cooking.
4th) – Cauliflower -
An excellent source of vitamin C, cauliflower also provides vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin E, carbohydrates, protein, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and dietary fiber. It’s low in calories (only 25 per serving), very low in sodium and has no fat, saturated fat or cholesterol. Including Cauliflower regularly in meals and snacks may help prevent cancer, heart disease and hypertension. Cauliflower, because of its bland flavor, can be eaten as a raw snack or added inconspicuously to dishes like soups and chili to boost nutritional values.
5th) - Red, Green, Orange & Yellow Peppers -
Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. To start, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants. Bell peppers also contain folic acid and provide fiber that can help lower high cholesterol levels, another risk factor for heart attack and stroke. For people worried about colon cancer, the fiber found in peppers can help to reduce the amount of contact that colon cells have with cancer-causing toxins found in certain foods or produced by certain gut bacteria. In addition, consumption of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid, all found in bell peppers, is associated with a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer. Red, Green, Orange and Yellow Peppers are great in salads and healthy stir-fries.
6th) – Garlic and Onions -
Garlic contains the amino acid, alliin, which scientists say has antibiotic and bactericidal effects. It is believed to promote cardiovascular activity and a beneficial, soothing action on the respiratory system.
Onion may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections. Onion can improve lung function, especially in asthmatics.
Garlic and Onions are most nutritious eaten raw in salads or healthy dips. But they also make great flavorings for just about any cooked dish.
7th) – Sweet Potatoes -
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, which is important for vision as well as skin, nail, and hair health. It also helps the body fend off bacterial infections. The orange veggie is also high in potassium, which helps heart and kidney function and facilitates muscle contractions. Potassium also regulates blood pressure and keeps body fluids in balance. Vitamin C is also found in high levels in this vegetable. Vitamin C promotes healing and helps the body fight infection; it also keeps blood vessel walls and gums healthy. Sweet potatoes contain calcium as well, which helps build strong bones and teeth and is necessary for healthy muscle and nerve functions. Vitamin B6, which helps the body metabolize carbohydrates and proteins, is also found in high levels in sweet potatoes. Vitamin B6 also promotes healthy nerves and helps the body form red blood cells. Sweet potatoes are good sources of fiber, copper, and many other vitamins and minerals. In addition, sweet potatoes are low in calories, are fat-free, and have a low glycemic load, meaning they are digested slowly (making the consumer feel fuller for longer). Sweet Potatoes are delicious when baked and eaten plain (without butter). They can also be used in soups and stir-fries.
8th) – Tomatoes -
The presence of antioxidants in tomatoes is said to be helpful in cleansing toxic compounds from the body. Lycopene, present in tomatoes, has been known to neutralize free radicals in the body and cut the risk of prostate cancer. Those who eat raw tomatoes have been found to be at a much lesser risk of developing rectal, colon or stomach cancer. It is believed that tomatoes block the effects of nitrosamines and thus, reduce the risk of lung cancer. Researches have suggested that eating tomatoes might help reduce the risk of heart attack. The vitamin K present in tomatoes helps in keeping the bones strong and healthy. It also helps prevent hemorrhages. Consuming raw tomato on a regular basis can help improve the texture of your skin and add glow. Tomatoes have been recognized throughout the world, for their blood purifying properties. If you are suffering from congestion of the liver, having tomatoes will prove to be quite beneficial. Tomatoes are known to help protect the liver from cirrhosis and can dissolve gallstones as well. Being a natural antiseptic, tomatoes can help protect the body against various common infections. The nicotinic acid in tomatoes is credited with reducing blood cholesterol, which in turn helps keep heart diseases at bay. Studies have shown that consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products may prevent serum lipid oxidation and reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease. When applied topically, tomato pulp can help heal sunburn, wounds and sores. Tomatoes can also help the body prevent diarrhea and soothe eye irritation as well. Tomatoes have been found to have positive effects in case of ailments like constipation, diabetes, indigestion, intestinal disorders and jaundice. Pregnant women, suffering from morning sickness, will benefit from tomato consumption. If you are suffering from liver disorders, night blindness, obesity and urinary tract infection, try having tomatoes everyday. Tomatoes , which are actually fruit, are good in salads and on sandwiches. Cherry tomatoes make great raw snacks. And pasta sauce is a good source of tomato nutrients.
9th) – Green Peas -
Peas are rich in protein and carbohydrates but low in fats. They are a good source of fiber and iron as well as vitamins A and C. Peas are rich in water-soluble fiber which helps promote good intestinal health and, by binding with cholesterol, helps excrete it. They are also very rich in thiamin (vitamin B1). This vitamin is essential for energy productions, nerve function and carbohydrate metabolism. Green Peas are best eaten raw (especially snow peas) or lightly steamed. Add fresh peas to salads (including chicken and pasta salad), soups and stir-fries.
10th) – Carrots -
It is one of the foods richest in beta-carotene, which is a vitamin A precursor. Our body transforms it into vitamin A. The carotene has an antioxidant property which may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Carrots help keep your skin healthy and improve your eyesight, especially night vision. Carrots also help maintain our intestinal tracts. They are rich in fiber which helps to protect against colon cancer. This vegetable will help boost your immune system and lower your risk of lung cancer. Carrots will also assist in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Carrots are naturally sweet and ideal for grating into salads. Baby carrots also make good raw snacks.
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