The role of vegetables in a healthy diet is invaluable. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, vegetable oils and acids. However, some vegetables stand out from the rest. They have specific proven health benefits, such as the ability to fight inflammation or reduce the risk of a range of diseases as well as being highly nutritious.
Top 11 healthiest and nutritious vegetables
Below are the 10 healthiest vegetables that have a strong evidence base of not only having high nutrition value but also providing significant health benefits.
Spinach is the richest source of valuable nutrients. 100 grams of spinach provides over 100 percent of the daily requirement for vitamins K and A. It also contains many antioxidants that can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. Japanese studies have found that beta-carotene and lutein in spinach reduce the likelihood of malignant cell transformation of any organ. According to Canadian experts, the green vegetable also lowers blood pressure and prevents strokes and myocardial infarction.
Just 100 grams of carrots provides nearly four daily servings of vitamin A, which is good for vision and reduces the risk of malignant tumors in the body. Chinese scientists found that eating just 1 serving of carrots (10 grams) per week reduces the likelihood of prostate cancer in men by 5%. Italian scientists have proven that carrots also prevent malignant lung tissue cells in smokers by about 3 times. Carrots are also rich in ascorbic acid, potassium and vitamin K, which are essential for maintaining blood pressure, improving the blood system and boosting immunity.
Broccoli is rich in glucosinolate and sulforaphane, which protect the human body from early development of heart and vascular disease as well as from malignant tumors. For example, sulforaphane has shown to reduce the size of breast tumors by killing cancer cells. Iranian experts have found that broccoli protects the myocardium from free radicals and significantly reduces the likelihood of coronary heart disease.
Sweet peppers surpass lemons and oranges in the amount of vitamin C. And the most ascorbic acid is near the stalk. Just one large pepper covers the daily norm of the rare vitamin P, which is necessary to protect the heart and blood vessels. Including this vegetable in your daily menu can normalize blood pressure, improve bowel function, and reduce the risk of cancer and stroke. For dermatitis and anemia, bell peppers are no less useful.
However, this product is not suitable for everyone and can cause irritation to the mucosa of the stomach. Choosing peppers, pay attention to the skin of the fruit. The less damage there, the better vitamins are preserved. The sweetest and most useful are red fruits, although the concentration of anti-inflammatory substances is much higher in green peppers.
Garlic is one of the most ancient medicinal vegetables. Its roots people actively used in ancient China and Egypt as a natural antimicrobial and potency stimulating drug. The main active ingredient of garlic is allicin – it is with it that scientists link most of the positive effects.
According to the scientists from China, garlic reduces the concentration of sugar in the blood and can be used as an adjunctive method in the treatment of type II diabetes. The plant also reduces total cholesterol and its atherogenic fractions (TAG and LDL) and increases the content of valuable HDL in the blood. As a result, garlic prevents the early development of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and several other vascular diseases. Allicin has also proven to cause the death of malignant cells in the body.
Brussels sprouts contain a special antioxidant, kaempferol, which prevents the appearance of malignant tumors. According to Korean experts, the action of kaempferol is based on the suppression of the influence of free radicals on the cells of the body. The vegetable also contains a host of other valuable vitamins and minerals: vitamins K, C and A, as well as folic acid, manganese and potassium.
Including white cabbage in the diet will provide a number of health benefits. According to Korean studies, cabbage juice leads to a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL levels and an increase in HDL. Such effects allow kale to be part of a dyslipidemia therapy regimen to prevent the development of diseases associated with atherosclerotic damage to arterial walls. There is also scientific evidence that white cabbage reduces blood pressure and increases the sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin. The data described allow to use the vegetable to prevent and relieve the course of type II diabetes and hypertension.
Green peas are a source of many vitamins K, C, and A, as well as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and folic acid. They are also rich in fiber, which makes them good for normalizing the digestive system (preventing constipation) and restoring intestinal microflora (after taking antibiotics for a long time), according to scientists in the United States. According to numerous studies (one, two), peas also have a pronounced anti-cancer effect – it slows down tumor growth and its metastasis.
Ginger root is widely used in cooking as well as in folk and evidence-based medicine. The most popular use of ginger is as a treatment for motion sickness. Studies also show that ginger has a positive effect on women during pregnancy, eliminating the most common manifestations of early-onset toxicity. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory, and can be used for inflammatory conditions such as gout, arthritis of various etiologies, and systemic lupus erythematosus. The positive effect of ginger on type II diabetes has also been recorded. In addition, ginger is effective for weight loss.
Asparagus is particularly rich in folic acid, which, according to studies, prevents neural tube defects in the fetus during pregnancy. It also protects liver cells from various toxic substances and can be used as a hepatoprotector for chronic pathologies of this organ.
Red cabbage is rich in anthocyanins, which not only give it its special color, but also have a number of positive qualities in relation to the body: from cancer prevention to improving the condition of the skin. Scientists from India have proven that red cabbage extract reduces the level of atherogenic cholesterol in the blood and thus prevents the appearance of such pathologies as: coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, chronic brain ischemia, etc. Also, regular use of the plant has a beneficial effect on the digestive system and the immune system.