Vegetables are an important component of a balanced diet. They provide you with three main vital nutrients: vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vitamins and minerals are important for bodily processes and for maintaining immunity, whereas fiber plays a crucial role in the digestive process and maintaining gut health.
Vegetables are a filling and flavorful option that can help add variety to your dishes. Nowadays, most dishes (even junk food like pizza and pasta) can be made more flavorful and healthy with the addition of vegetables.
Although all vegetables are good for you, there are a few that stand out, as they have a lot of nutrients and strong health benefits. Read on to find out more.
Nutrient-Dense Vegetables You should Include
Here's a look at seven healthy and nutrient dense vegetables you should include in your daily diet:
Rich in fiber and compounds called glucosinolate and sulforaphane, broccoli is one yummy and nutritious vegetable. Sulforaphane can help protect against cancer in both animal and test-tube studies. Broccoli can also help prevent other long-term illness.
Broccoli sprouts can lower the levels of several markers of inflammation. These markers have been linked to long-term conditions like heart disease. Just one cup (91 grammes) of raw broccoli has 77% of the DV for vitamin K, 90% of the DV for vitamin C, and a good amount of folate, manganese, and potassium.
Beets are a colorful root vegetable that can be used in many ways. Each serving has very few calories but a lot of fiber, folate, and manganese. Beets also have a lot of nitrates, which the body turns into nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels open up.
The nitrates in beet juice can help lower blood pressure, according to a review of 11 studies. That, in turn, can make you less likely to get heart disease. Beets and their juice have also been linked with better endurance and performance in sports.
This leafy green has the most vitamins and minerals of any vegetable. A cup (30 grammes) of raw spinach has only seven calories, but it has 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A and 120% of the DV for vitamin K.
Spinach also has antioxidants, which can make you less likely to get sick. Beta carotene and lutein, two antioxidants linked with a lower risk of cancer, are found in high amounts in dark leafy greens, like spinach.
Spinach can also be good for the heart, as it helps lower blood pressure.
Carrots are full of vitamin A. One cup (128 grammes) of carrot provides 119% of the daily value.
They also have an antioxidant called beta-carotene, which gives them their bright orange color and can help prevent cancer. This chemical is turned into vitamin A by the body.
In fact, a study of more than 57,000 people found that eating at least 2-4 carrots a week can lower the risk of colorectal cancer by 17%. Carrots can also lower the risk of getting lung cancer. Lastly, they also have a lot of other important nutrients, like potassium, and vitamins C and K.
5) Sweet Potato
The orange color, sweetness, and health benefits of sweet potatoes make them stand out from other veggies. One medium sweet potato has about 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 high in beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A by the body. In fact, one sweet potato can provide 132% of your daily value (DV) of this vitamin. Also, beta carotene has been linked with a lower risk of some cancers, like lung cancer.
6) Brussel Sprout
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli, and they both have the same healthy plant compounds. They contain an antioxidant called kaempferol, which can be especially good in preventing cell damage. It also has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
This vegetable is also a great source of fiber, which is an important nutrient that helps keep your bowels moving, keeps your heart healthy and blood sugar in check.
Brussels sprouts are pretty nutrient-dense. They contain generous amounts of folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C and K.
Asparagus is a great food to add to any diet, as it's full of vitamins and minerals. Just half cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus has 33% of the DV for folate and a lot of selenium, vitamin K, thiamine, and riboflavin.
If you have enough folate from foods like asparagus, you can be less likely to get sick or have problems with the development of the neural tube during pregnancy.
A study on animals showed that asparagus extract can prevent liver and kidney damage by lowering oxidative stress.
The aforementioned nutrient-dense vegetables can improve the nutritional profile of your dishes.