It's important to love your vegetables. You should be eating the best vegetables in the vegetable kingdom, especially when you are trying to eat healthy. Read on for a list of nutritionist-approved go-to veggies to support good health.
1. Shiitake mushrooms
"Shiitake mushrooms can be a low-calorie, healthy vegetable, but they have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve immune function by increasing secretory IgA which serves as the first line defense in the body protecting against pathogens," Erin Kenney MS, RD registered dietitian CEO Nutrition Rewired. Try adding them to a stir-fry with rice. These delicious mushrooms are also great as side dishes, sauteed in garlic and scallion.
2. Sweet potatoes
Are you already regularly eating this nutritious and fiber-rich tuber? Keep up the good work. "Sweet potatoes can be considered a functional food because they contain many nutrients that humans need for optimal health," Jared T. Meacham (RD, PMP), CSCS, president (2022-2023 DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) states. He also notes that sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Meacham says that sweet potatoes promote gut health as they clean the gastrointestinal tract, soften stool, and help to maintain a healthy internal environment. Sweet potatoes are high quality carbohydrate sources, Meacham says. One cup of sweet potatoes contains more than half the recommended daily allowance (RDA), of vitamin A, vitamin B, and manganese. He says that sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from injury and may be anti-cancer.
"Jicama is a crunchy, refreshing vegetable rich in prebiotic fiber. Kenney says that jicama's fiber has been shown to prevent excess blood glucose and weight gain. He suggests adding this vegetable to a salad or dip it in hummus for a tasty snack. This root vegetable is also a great addition to smoothies.
4. Pea greens
Let's celebrate these little green stars. Meacham says that green peas are a very nutritious source of nutrients. They not only provide starchy carbohydrates but also have high amounts of fiber and protein per serving. Pea protein supplementation is a popular choice for vegans as well as non-vegans who are looking to add plant proteins to their diet. Green peas also contain saponins which have been shown to be effective in fighting cancer. P.S. P.S.
5. Broccoli sprouts
Kenney says that broccoli sprouts contain a phytochemical called "sulforaphane" which is believed to be able to heal the gut, reduce inflammation and even fight cancer. She continues that "Sulforaphane has been proven to increase Phase II detoxification enzymes (or antioxidant enzymes) which detoxify your body from potential carcinogens or other disease-causing substances." It's also easy to grow your own broccoli sprouts. She suggests adding them to a sandwich or smoothie.
Although garlic is not part of the onion family it can be beneficial for your health and breath. "Garlic is a wonderful vegetable, whose active ingredient is allicin is the main reason for its many healthful qualities. Meacham comments that garlic may have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL [or "good"] cholesterol. Research has shown that garlic may have properties that fight various types of cancer. Some research even identified liver cancer as one of the possible forms of the disease that allicin might be effective in fighting. Raw garlic has more allicin than cooked, so eat raw garlic if possible, such as a minced or blended clove into a smoothie.
Please pass the kimchi. Kenney comments that Kimchi, a fermented Korean vegetable mix, has been shown in studies to lower cholesterol levels. "Fermented foods boost the beneficial bacteria in your gut which is known to improve immune function." This popular condiment is great for soups and mixed into savory dishes. You can buy it online or at your local grocery store's Asian food section.
It's messy but worth it. "Red beetroots are naturally vibrant and reddened by antioxidant betalains that beetroots have in their beetroots. ProfilePlan.com's Alyssa Brinkison, MSRD, LN says that beetroots are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, vitamin K as well as calcium and iron. She adds that betalains have antioxidant properties which can help protect cells from DNA damage and provide anticancer properties.
You can grab some baby carrots if you are reading this, and you have them in your fridge. You're done! OK, great. Burnison says that carrots are well-known for being rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene. She explains that the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. This is a scientific review of carrots.
10. Brussels sprouts
Burnison shares that Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has been shown to regulate blood sugar, as it forms a gel-like substance in the stomach after digestion. This can prevent spikes in blood sugar and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Aaron Sanchez's Brussels sprouts salad anyone?
Bonus algae pick! This superfood is your chance to make a change. You can also sprinkle some in your favorite chia seeds pudding or oatmeal recipe. Meacham says that even the smallest amount contains a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances like C-phycocyanin C-PC. Supplementation with spirulina has been shown to balance blood sugar levels and blood lipid profiles in people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Research has also shown promise regarding spirulina's ability to fight oral cancer cells.