A stern warning from the doctor about the need to eat more produce hasn’t done much to improve American eating habits. Only 8.9% of adults in the U.S. are eating the recommended amount of vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most Americans barely make it past one serving a day.
Which vegetables should you eat? The next time you hit the grocery store, think about picking up some of these underrated vegetables.
The vibrant orange hue should give you a clue as to how great this veggie is. The color indicates high levels of carotenoids, powerful compounds that research has linked to a reduced risk of some types of cancer and eye disease. Other veggies in the same color spectrum have similar nutritional benefits, but Eat This, Not That! pointed out carrots are probably the easiest to prepare.
2. Bok choy
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, bok choy doesn’t get very much attention here in the States. Consider it your secret weapon because, according to Livestrong.com, 1 cup contains only 10 calories, but gives you a good dose of fiber and vitamins A and C. Studies indicate eating cruciferous veggies may also help prevent certain types of cancer. And bok choy is a complete bargain compared to its pricier vegetable siblings.
Parsley is sort of the forgotten herb. It’s usually used as a pasta garnish while cilantro, basil, and mint steal the spotlight. But this B vitamin has long been touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women, and the benefits don’t stop there. One 2012 meta-analysis published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases found sufficient folate intake could reduce the risk of heart disease. And according to Reader’s Digest, you can eat 2 full cups for just 35 calories.
Onions can do a world of good for your health. A recent study from the British Journal of Nutrition found regular doses of onion skin extract helped lower blood pressure for adults with hypertension. The key player is likely quercetin, a type of antioxidant that’s also found in tea and berries. Onions are also pretty smart for those watching their weight. WebMD reports an entire allium is just 63 calories and also contains loads of vitamin C.
Very few people buy watercress at the grocery store. When they do, it’s usually just for some sort of garnish. What this green lacks in popularity, it makes up for in nutritional value. Self Nutrition Data shows the calorie count is almost negligible and it’s a great source of vitamins and other nutrients, including lutein, a potent antioxidant.
When they’re not fried in grease or smothered in sour cream, potatoes are nutritional powerhouses. According to Mother Nature Network, one medium potato is about 100 calories and contains plenty of vitamins C and B6, plus more potassium than a banana.
7. Frozen peas
Think fresh is always best? Think again. When any type of produce is picked, it immediately starts losing nutritional value. Peas are particularly finicky and lose their nutrients a lot faster than sturdier vegetables.
According to the USDA’s nutrient database, 1 cup of chopped celery stalks is only 16 calories and provides you with a decent amount of vitamin A and folate. Most notably, though, celery is an excellent source of vitamin K, a key nutrient for bone and blood health. If that’s not enough to convince you to chow down, consider the boost it could give your sex life. Men’s Health says celery is loaded with pheromones, chemicals that get both you and ladies in the mood.
One of the biggest bargains in the supermarket, cabbage doesn’t get much attention aside from the occasional slaw. According to Verywell, 1 cup of chopped, raw cabbage will only cost you 22 calories and you’ll get a good dose of fiber and vitamin C. Cabbage is also a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale and cauliflower. These veggies all contain substances called glucosinolates. According to the National Cancer Institute, they break down into a number of compounds that have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
This water-packed veggie offers more than just a spicy kick for your salad. WebMD says a full cup contains 19 calories plus a good amount of vitamin C and fiber. Radishes are also filled with phytosterols, a type of compound that can help lower cholesterol, according to Cleveland Clinic.
It’s a known fact that broccoli is healthy, but it’s actually one of the most nutritionally dense foods on Earth. It’s rich in a sulfur-containing plant compound known as glucosinolate, as well as sulforaphane, a by-product of glucosinolate that it has been shown to help prevent cancer. It’s also loaded with nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate.
Technically, ginger is considered a vegetable — and it’s one of the best ones you can put in your body. Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful in treating inflammation disorders like lupus and arthritis. It is also well-known for its anti-nausea benefits, and it may even decrease blood sugar in diabetics.
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