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    15 healthiest vegetables: Nutrition and health benefits

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    15 healthiest vegetables: Nutrition and health benefits

    There is no single most healthy vegetable, but eating a variety of vegetables can improve health and well-being. Nutritious options to try adding to the diet include spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

    All vegetables contain healthful vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber — but some stand out for their exceptional benefits.

    Specific vegetables may offer more health advantages to certain people, depending on their diets, overall health, and nutritional needs.

    In this https://thevegangarden.com/‘s article, we look at 15 of the most healthful vegetables and suggest ways to enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.

    1. Spinach

    Spinach is a leafy green vegetable and a great source of calcium, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.

    Due to its iron and calcium content, spinach is a great addition to any meat- or dairy-free diet.

    One cup of raw spinach is mostly made up of water and contains only 7 caloriesTrusted Source. It also provides:

    • an adult’s full daily requirementTrusted Source of vitamin K
    • high amounts of vitamin A
    • vitamin C
    • magnesium
    • folate
    • iron
    • calcium
    • antioxidants

    Vitamin K is essential for a healthy body — especially for strong bones, as it improves the absorption of calcium.

    Spinach also provides a good amount of iron for energy and healthy blood, and a high level of magnesium for muscle and nerve function.

    It is also rich in antioxidants, and researchTrusted Source suggests that spinach leaves may lower blood pressure and benefit heart health.

    If a person is taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), they should use caution when increasing their intake of dark leafy greens. Doctors recommend maintaining a consistent vitamin K intake over time for people taking these medications.

    How to eat spinach

    People enjoy spinach raw in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Cooked spinach also has significant health benefits and is a great addition to pasta dishes and soups.

    2. Kale

    Kale is a very popular leafy green vegetable with several health benefits. It provides around 7 caloriesTrusted Source per cup of raw leaves and good amounts of vitamins A, C, and K.

    Kale may benefit people with high cholesterol. One small 2008 study reports that males with high cholesterol who drank 150 milliliters of kale juice each day for 12 weeks experienced a 10% reduction in low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol and a 27% increase in high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol.

    Research from 2015Trusted Source, meanwhile, suggests that kale juice can reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

    If a person is taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin, they should use caution when increasing their intake of dark leafy greens. It is best to maintain a consistent vitamin K intake while taking these medications.

    How to eat kale

    People use baby kale in pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. A person may also enjoy kale chips or juice.

    3. Broccoli

    Broccoli is an incredibly healthful vegetable that belongs to the same family as cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. These are all cruciferous vegetables.

    Each cup of chopped and boiled broccoli contains:

    • around 31 caloriesTrusted Source
    • the full daily requirement of vitamin K
    • twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C

    According to the National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source, animal research has found that certain chemicals, called indoles and isothiocyanates, in cruciferous vegetables may inhibit the development of cancer in several organs, including the bladder, breasts, liver, and stomach.

    These compounds may protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate cancer-causing agents, and have anti-inflammatory effects. However, research in humans has been mixed.

    How to eat broccoli

    Broccoli is very versatile. People can roast it, steam it, fry it, blend it into soups, or enjoy it warm in salads.

    4. Peas

    Peas are a sweet, starchy vegetable. They contain 134 caloriesTrusted Source per cooked cup, and they are rich in:

    • fiber, providing 9 grams (g) per serving
    • protein, providing 9 g per serving
    • vitamins A, C, and K
    • certain B vitamins

    Green peas are a good source of plant-based protein, which may be especially beneficial for people with vegetarian or vegan diets.

    Peas and other legumes contain fiber, which supports good bacteria in the gut and helps ensure regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive tract.

    They are also rich in saponins, plant compounds that may help protect againstTrusted Source oxidative stress and cancer.

    How to eat peas

    It might be handy to keep a bag of peas in the freezer and gradually use them to boost the nutritional profiles of pasta dishes, risottos, and curries. A person might also enjoy a refreshing pea and mint soup.

    5. Sweet potatoes

    Sweet potatoes are root vegetables. Baked in its skin, a medium sweet potato provides 103 caloriesTrusted Source and 0.17 g of fat.

    Each sweet potato also contains:

    • much more than an adult’s daily requirement of vitamin A
    • 25% of their vitamin C and B6 requirements
    • 12% of their potassium requirement
    • beta carotene, which may improve eye health and help fight cancer

    Sweet potatoes may be a good option for people with diabetes. This is because they are low on the glycemic index and rich in fiber, so they may help regulate blood sugar.

    How to eat sweet potatoes

    For a simple meal, bake a sweet potato in its skin and serve it with a source of protein, such as fish or tofu.

    15 healthiest vegetables: Nutrition and health benefits

    6. Beets

    One cup of raw beets contains:

    • 58.5 caloriesTrusted Source
    • 442 milligrams (mg) of potassium
    • 148 micrograms of folate

    Beets and beet juice are great for improving heart health, as the vegetable is rich in heart-healthy nitrates. A small 2012 studyTrusted Source reports that drinking 500 g of beet juice significantly lowered blood pressure in healthy people.

    These vegetables may also benefit people with diabetes. Beets contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, which might be helpfulTrusted Source for people with diabetes-related nerve problems, called diabetic neuropathy.

    How to eat beets

    Roasting beets brings out their natural sweetness, but they also taste great raw in juices, salads, and sandwiches.

    7. Carrots

    Each cup of chopped carrots contains 52 caloriesTrusted Source and over four times an adult’s daily recommended intake of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene.

    Vitamin A is vital for healthy eyesight, and getting enough of this nutrient may help prevent vision loss.

    Certain nutrients in carrots may also have cancer-fighting properties. A 2018 reviewTrusted Source of 10 articles reports that dietary carrot intake was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.

    How to eat carrots

    Carrots are extremely versatile. They work well in casseroles and soups, and they provide great health benefits when eaten raw, possibly with a dip such as hummus.

    8. Fermented vegetables

    Fermented vegetables provide all the nutrients of their unfermented counterparts as well as healthful doses of probiotics.

    Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are present in the body and in some foods and supplements. Some researchers believe that they can improve gut health.

    According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthTrusted Source, probiotics may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. They may also prevent infection- or antibiotic-induced diarrhea.

    Some good vegetables for fermentation include:

    • cabbage, as sauerkraut
    • cucumbers, as pickles
    • carrots
    • cauliflower

    How to eat fermented vegetables

    People eat fermented vegetables in salads, sandwiches, or as a side dish.

    9. Tomatoes

    Although tomatoes are technically a fruit, most people treat them like vegetables and use them in savory dishes. Each cup of chopped, raw tomatoes contains:

    • 32 caloriesTrusted Source
    • 427 mg of potassium
    • 24.7 mg of vitamin C

    Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer, and the beta carotene in tomatoes also helps combat cancer.

    Meanwhile, other potent antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, may protect vision.

    The Age-Related Eye Disease StudyTrusted Source reports that people who have high dietary intakes of these substances have a 25% reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.

    How to eat tomatoes

    People enjoy tomatoes raw or cooked, and cooking them releases more lycopene.

    10. Garlic

    People have long used garlic in cooking and medicine. Each garlic clove contains just 4 caloriesTrusted Source and is low in vitamins and minerals.

    However, garlic is a natural antibiotic. For example, a 2018 reviewTrusted Source notes that people have used garlic for purposes similar to those of antibiotics since the 16th century.

    Allium, a component of garlic, may be the source of its health benefits. Confirming this will require more research.

    How to eat garlic

    Heating garlic reduces its health benefits, so it is best to eat garlic raw, in bruschetta or dips, for example.

    11. Onions

    Each cup of chopped onions can provideTrusted Source:

    • 64 calories
    • vitamin C
    • vitamin B6
    • manganese

    Onions and other allium vegetables, including garlic, contain sulfur compounds. Review studies, including a 2019 reviewTrusted Source and a 2015 reviewTrusted Source, suggest that these compounds may help protect against cancer.

    How to eat onions

    It can be easy to incorporate onions into soups, stews, stir-fries, and curries. To get the most from their antioxidants, eat them raw — in sandwiches, salads, and dips such as guacamole.

    12. Alfalfa sprouts

    Each cup of alfalfa sprouts contains only 8 caloriesTrusted Source and a good amount of vitamin K.

    These sprouts also boast several compounds that contribute to good health, including:

    • saponins, a type of bitter compound with health benefits
    • flavonoids, a type of polyphenol known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
    • phytoestrogens, plant compounds that are similar to natural estrogens

    Traditionally, some have used alfalfa sprouts to treat a range of health conditions, such as arthritis and kidney problems. However, very few scientific investigations have explored these uses.

    Research suggests that alfalfa sprouts contain antioxidants, which are compounds that may help fight diseases including cancer and heart disease.

    Eating sprouted legumes such as these may have other benefits. StudiesTrusted Source suggest that sprouting, or germinating, seeds increases their protein and amino acid contents.

    Germination may also improveTrusted Source the digestibility of alfalfa and other seeds and increase their dietary fiber content.

    How to eat alfalfa sprouts

    People enjoy alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches.

    13. Bell peppers

    Sweet bell peppers may be red, yellow, or orange. Unripe, green bell peppers are also popular, though they taste less sweet.

    A cup of chopped red bell pepper provides:

    • 39 caloriesTrusted Source
    • 190 mg of vitamin C
    • 0.434 mg of vitamin B6
    • folate
    • beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A

    Antioxidants and bioactive chemicals present in bell peppers includeTrusted Source:

    • ascorbic acid
    • carotenoids
    • vitamin C
    • beta carotene
    • flavonoids, such as quercetin and kaempferol

    How to eat bell peppers

    Bell peppers are extremely versatile and can be easy to incorporate into pasta, scrambled eggs, or a salad. A person might also enjoy them sliced with a side of guacamole or hummus.

    14. Cauliflower

    One cup of chopped cauliflower contains:

    • 27 caloriesTrusted Source
    • plenty of vitamin C
    • vitamin K
    • fiber

    The American Heart AssociationTrusted Source recommend eating 25 g of dietary fiber each day to promote heart and gut health.

    Also, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain an antioxidant called indole-3-carbinol. ResearchTrusted Source has linked this compound with cancer-combatting effects in animals. However, confirming the effects in humans requires more research.

    And like broccoli, cauliflower contains another compound that may help combat cancer: sulforaphane.

    How to eat cauliflower

    A person can pulse raw cauliflower in a blender to make cauliflower rice or turn it into a pizza base for a low-calorie, comforting treat. People may also enjoy cauliflower in curries or baked with olive oil and garlic.

    15. Seaweed

    Seaweed, also known as sea vegetables, are versatile and nutritious plants that provide several health benefits. Common types of seaweed include:

    • kelp
    • nori
    • sea lettuce
    • spirulina
    • wakame

    Seaweed is one of the few plant-based sources of the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. These are essential for health and are mostly present in meat and dairy.

    Each type of seaweed has a slightly different nutritional profile, but they are typically rich in iodine, which is an essential nutrient for thyroid function.

    Eating a variety of sea vegetables can provide the body with several important antioxidants to reduce cellular damage.

    Also, many types of seaweed contain chlorophyll, which is a plant pigment that has anti-inflammatory propertiesTrusted Source.

    Brown sea vegetables, such as kelp and wakame, contain another potent antioxidant called fucoxanthin. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that this has 13.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E.

    How to eat seaweed

    When possible, choose organic seaweed and eat small amounts to avoid introducing too much iodine into the diet. People enjoy sea vegetables in sushi, miso soups, and as a seasoning for other dishes.


    Eating vegetables every day is important for health. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, such as antioxidants and fiber.

    Research consistently shows that people who eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day have the lowest risk of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

    Enjoy a range of vegetables daily to reap as many health benefits as possible.

    Fruit and vegetables

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    Fruit and vegetables

    About fruit and vegetables

    Fruit and vegetables should be an important part of your daily diet. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that can help to keep you healthy. They can also help protect against some diseases. So keep reading on this site https://thevegangarden.com/ to learn more about it.

    Most Australians will benefit from eating more fruit and vegetables as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet and an active lifestyle. There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them.

    Fruit and vegetables are best bought when they are in season. Otherwise try frozen or canned vegetables as they are just as nutritious and budget-friendly as well.

    You should eat at least 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit each day. Choose different colours and varieties.

    If you are someone who doesn’t look forward to eating fruit or vegetables, start slowly with those you do like. Try serving, flavouring or cooking them in different ways. You can also disguise them in sauces, minced meals or curries.

    Fruit and vegetables

    Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables

    Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are good for your health. Many of these are antioxidants, and may reduce the risk of many diseases:

    • vitamin A (beta-carotene)
    • vitamin C
    • vitamin E
    • magnesium
    • zinc
    • phosphorous
    • folic acid.

    Folic acid may reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

    Research has shown that consuming these nutrients as food, within fruits and vegetables, is more beneficial for health than consuming them as supplements.

    Fruit and vegetables for good health

    Fruits and vegetables are low in fatsalt and sugar. They are a good source of dietary fibre, which can make you feel fuller for longer and prevent overconsumption of food. As part of a well-balanced, healthy diet and an active lifestyle, a high intake of fruit and vegetables can help you to:

    • reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight
    • lower your cholesterol
    • lower your blood pressure.

    Fruit and vegetables and protection against diseases

    Vegetables and fruit contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, or plant chemicals. These biologically active substances can help to protect you from some diseases.

    Scientific research shows that if you regularly eat lots of fruit and vegetables, you have a lower risk of:

    • type 2 diabetes
    • stroke
    • heart (cardiovascular) disease
    • cancer – some forms of cancer, especially bowelstomach and throat cancers later in life
    • high blood pressure (hypertension).

    Types of fruit

    Fruit is the sweet, fleshy, edible part of a plant. It generally contains seeds. Fruits are usually eaten raw, although some varieties can be cooked. They come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and flavours. Common types of fruits that are readily available include:

    • apples and pears
    • citrus – oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and limes
    • stone fruit – nectarines, apricots, peaches and plums
    • tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes
    • berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit and passionfruit
    • melons – watermelons, rockmelons and honeydew melons
    • tomatoes and avocados.

    Types of vegetables

    Vegetables are available in many varieties and can be classified into biological groups or ‘families’, including:

    • leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silverbeet
    • cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
    • marrow – pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini
    • root – potato, sweet potato and yam
    • edible plant stem – celery and asparagus
    • allium – onion, garlic and shallot.


    Legumes or pulses contain nutrients that are especially valuable. Legumes need to be cooked before they are eaten – this improves their nutritional quality, aids digestion and eliminates any harmful toxins. Legumes come in many forms including:

    • soy products – tofu (bean curd) and soybeans
    • legume flours – chickpea flour (besan), lentil flour and soy flour
    • dried beans and peas – haricot beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils
    • fresh beans and peas – green peas, green beans, butter beans, broad beans and snow peas.

    Colours of fruits and vegetables

    Foods of similar colours generally contain similar protective compounds. Try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables every day to get the full range of health benefits. For example:

    • red foods – like tomatoes and watermelon. These contain lycopene, which is thought to be important for fighting prostate cancer and heart disease
    • green vegetables – like spinach and kale. These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related eye disease
    • blue and purple foods – like blueberries and eggplant. These contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the body from cancer
    • white foods – like cauliflower. These contain sulforaphane and may also help protect against some cancers.

    Selecting fruits and vegetables

    To maximise nutrients and appeal, buy and serve different types of fruit and vegetables. Try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and choose for freshness and quality. You should:

    • Eat with the seasons – this is nature’s way of making sure our bodies get a healthy mix of nutrients and plant chemicals.
    • Try something new – try new recipes and buy new fruit or vegetables as part of your weekly shopping.
    • Let colours guide you – get different combinations of nutrients by putting a ‘rainbow’ of colours (green, white, yellow–orange, blue–purple, red) on your plate.

    Fruit and vegetable serving suggestions for your family’s health

    Some examples of serving sizes of fruits and vegetables include:

    • ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
    • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils (preferably with no added salt)
    • 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
    • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
    • 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
    • 1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar)
    • 125ml (½ cup) fruit juice (no added sugar) – only occasionally
    • 30g dried fruit (for example, 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons of sultanas) – only occasionally.

    Vegetables and fruit are a handy snack food and are easily carried to work or school. Include them in everyone’s meals and snacks for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some suggestions include:

    • Keep snack-size fruit and vegetable portions easily accessible in your fridge.
    • Keep fresh fruit on the bench or table.
    • Add fruit and vegetables to your favourite family recipes or as additions to your usual menus.
    • Use the colour and texture of a variety of fruit and vegetables to add interest to your meals.
    • Think up new ways to serve fruits and vegetables. Try serving, flavouring or cooking them in different ways. You can also disguise them in sauces, minced meals or curries.
    • Frozen or canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh, and are a convenient, budget friendly option as well.
    • Make simple changes every day. Try adding salad to sandwiches, or having extra vegetables with dinner.

    Some simple ways to serve fruits and vegetables include:

    • fruit and vegetable salads
    • vegetable or meat-and-vegetable stir-fries
    • raw fruit and vegetables
    • vegetable soups
    • snack pack, stewed or canned fruits or dried fruits.

    Limit fruit juice, as it does not contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit. It also contains a lot of sugars. These sugars are not necessarily good for your health, even though they are ‘natural’. Instead, have a drink of water and a serve of fruit.

    Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables

    Vegetables are often cooked, although some kinds are eaten raw. Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods.

    Suggestions to get the best out of your fruit and vegetables include:

    • Eat raw vegetables and fruits if possible.
    • Try fruit or vegetables pureed into smoothies.
    • Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruits to avoid bruising.
    • Cut off only the inedible parts of vegetables – sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin, just below the skin or in the leaves.
    • Use stir-fry, grill, microwave, bake or steam methods with non-stick cookware and mono-unsaturated oils.
    • Do not overcook, to reduce nutrient loss.
    • Serve meals with vegetable pestos, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour cream, butter and creamy sauces.

    Some nutrients such as carotenoids may actually be increased if food is cooked. For example, tomato has more carotenoids, especially lycopene, when it is cooked – a good reason to prepare fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways.

    Once you’ve prepared and cooked your vegetables and fruit, spend some time on presentation. People are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s full of variety and visually appealing, as well as tasty.

    Meals with others tend to include more foods from the 5 food groups. For example, people often report that they can’t be bothered cooking vegetables just for themselves.

    Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your food without distractions like television. Television watching is associated with eating more discretionary choices like takeaway or convenience foods and fewer foods from the 5 food groups. It also makes it much more difficult to recognise and respond to our body’s signals about hunger and fullness (satiety).

    Daily allowances of fruit and vegetables

    Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 5 kinds of vegetable and 2 kinds of fruit every day.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults eat at least 400g, or 5 portions, of fruit and vegetables (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes and other starchy roots) per day to reduce the risk of disease. This amount of fruits and vegetables also ensures adequate fibre intake and can also reduce total sugar intake.

    A national nutrition survey conducted by the Australian Government showed only 6.8% of Australians eat the recommended amount of vegetables, whilst just over half (54%) met the recommendations for usual serves of fruit.

    Children and teenagers have special food needs because they are growing and developing. They also need extra energy for playing and being more active. Even though they need more energy, children have a smaller stomach capacity than adults and cannot eat the same serving sizes. However, you should encourage your children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

    By eating well, your children will have the energy they need to play, concentrate better, learn, sleep better and build stronger teeth and bones. Building good habits in their early years can also provide the protection of a healthy diet throughout their lives.

    Childcare and school lunchboxes, like meals and snacks at home, should continue to reflect the 5 food groups and not include discretionary foods and drinks.