Everyone knows that a great way to have a healthier diet is to eat more vegetables. However, not every vegetable is created equal. Iceberg lettuce does not have the same nutrients as kale, while white potatoes are not as nutritious as sweet potatoes. Luckily, many of the healthiest vegetables are the best tasting. Below is a list of the best vegetables to add to one’s diet, along with plenty of reasons to incorporate more of them into every week’s meal plan. Additionally, the major nutrients found in each of the following vegetables will be discussed as well.
Mashed, baked, roasted, sautéed, steamed, or pureed, sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables around. From their bright orange color, it is clear that they are high in beta carotene, which has a number of different benefits. However, there is more than meets the eye at play with sweet potatoes. Like many of the vegetables on this list, they are incredibly high in fiber, while also high in other vitamins and minerals. Interestingly, the skins have plenty of antioxidants, so it could well be a vegetable that it is better to wash thoroughly rather than just peel.
When many people think of eating more vegetables, they think of eating more salads. However, that is only part of the solution. While iceberg and romaine have their place, it is the really dark greens that shine in the nutrition world. Many people are obsessed with kale, and rightfully so. However, it is not the only dark leafy green in town. Spinach, collard greens, and chards also offer a number of different advantages. Such greens are especially high in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps blood clot more effectively. However, fans of Popeye might be disappointed; for their weight, greens are relatively low in protein.
The same cannot be said about legumes, a large family that includes beans, lentils, and even peanuts. These vegetables are incredibly high in protein, with some nutritionists considering them to be more like meat and fish than other vegetables. Additionally, legumes are incredibly high in fiber, especially soluble fiber that can lower blood sugar and decrease the risk of a heart attack or stroke. One particularly challenging aspect of legumes is the fact that they can take a while to cook; while lentils can be cooked in less than an hour, many other beans require soaking overnight.
Fans of spicy food can rejoice, as hot peppers are actually one of the healthiest foods that a person can eat. There are many reasons for this. First, like other vegetables, they are relatively low in calories while high in fiber. However, two specific reasons for eating more hot peppers exist. Hot peppers, like jalapenos, anaheims, and serranos, all have high levels of vitamin C. Additionally, the chemical that gives hot peppers their spicy bite, capsaicin, has been shown to help manage hormones like insulin in the bloodstream. This means that eating hot peppers can be especially beneficial to those worried about diabetes.
Few vegetables are so renowned for their health benefits as to be rumored to keep vampires away. However, garlic is just that healthy. A number of compounds in garlic can help fight the common cold, which is part of the reason that chicken soup is such a good treatment for it. However, garlic does wonders for one’s heart. The pungent plant can reduce blood pressure substantially while also helping to manage cholesterol levels. Best of all, with plenty of soluble fiber, it can help filter the bloodstream.
Finally, carrots have plenty of the same benefits that other vegetables on this list have, including being high in fiber, low in calories, and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, carrots are unique in that there may not be a better vegetable to eat in order to support eyesight. During World War II, the British disguised their use of radar by simply saying that their pilots were eating that many carrots, and while consumption of carrots is no rival for technology, the lie proved to be so rooted in scientific truth that it endures even today.