The 14 vegetables richest in vitamins and nutrients

It’s no secret that vegetables, which are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, are essential for a healthy diet. They’re also filling, flavorful, and great for a variety of dishes, like salads, soups, smoothies, and sandwiches. Although all vegetables are good for your health, some of them stand out for their nutrient content and powerful health benefits.

Here are 14 of the most nutrient-dense vegetables.

1. Spinach

This leafy green tops the list of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. In fact, 1 cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin A plus 120% of the DV of vitamin K, all for just 7 calories. Spinach also contains antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of disease. A study found that dark leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in beta-carotene and lutein, two antioxidants linked to a lower risk of cancer. Another study suggests that spinach may benefit heart health by helping to lower blood pressure.

2. Carrots

Carrots are loaded with vitamin A, providing 119% of the Daily Value in just one cup (128 grams). They also contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives them their bright orange color and may help prevent cancer. Your body converts this compound into vitamin A. In fact, a study in over 57,000 people linked eating at least 2-4 carrots per week with a 17% reduction in long-term colorectal cancer risk. A review of 18 studies found that carrots may also reduce the risk of lung cancer. Finally, these popular root vegetables are rich in many other essential nutrients, including potassium and vitamins C and K.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in a sulfur plant compound called glucosinolate, as well as its by-product, sulforaphane. Researchers in animal and test-tube studies have extensively explored the ability of sulforaphane to protect against cancer. This cruciferous vegetable may also help prevent other types of chronic disease.
A small study found broccoli sprouts reduced levels of several markers of inflammation, which have been linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease. Just one cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 77% of the daily value of vitamin K, 90% of the daily value of vitamin C, and a good amount of folate, manganese, and potassium.

4. Garlic

Garlic has been used as a medicinal plant for millennia. Its main active compound is allicin, which has been shown to benefit blood sugar levels and heart health. In a three-month study of 90 people, those who took 1,600 mg of garlic powder daily experienced a significant reduction in belly fat and lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels compared to to the placebo group. Garlic powder supplementation also improved insulin resistance, a condition that may contribute to type 2 diabetes. Another review of 33 studies found that garlic lowered cholesterol levels and improved blood sugar control, which may help people with heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Additionally, while more research is needed, test-tube and animal studies suggest that allicin has potent cancer fighting properties.

5. Brussels sprouts

Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, and they contain the same beneficial plant compounds. Brussels sprouts also have kaempferol, an antioxidant that may be particularly effective in preventing cell damage. Kaempferol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, which may protect against disease. This vegetable is also a great source of fiber, an important nutrient that supports bowel regularity, heart health, and blood sugar control. In addition, Brussels sprouts are very rich in nutrients. Each serving contains folic acid, magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and K (19Trusted Source).

6. Kale

Like other leafy green vegetables, kale is renowned for its nutrient density and antioxidant content. Just one cup (21 grams) of raw kale contains potassium, calcium, copper, and vitamins A, B, C, and K. In one small study, eating kale along with a high-carb meal was more effective at preventing blood sugar spikes than eating a high-carb meal alone. Another study showed that drinking kale juice can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

7. Peas

Peas are starchy vegetables, which means they contain more carbs and calories than non-starchy vegetables and can affect blood sugar when eaten in large amounts. Nevertheless, green peas are incredibly nutritious. Just one cup (160 grams) contains 9 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and vitamins A, C, and K, as well as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and folic acid. Because they are high in fiber, peas support digestive health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut and promoting regular bowel movements. Additionally, peas are rich in saponins, a group of plant compounds known for their anti-cancer effects. Although more studies are needed, some research suggests that saponins can reduce tumor growth and cause cancer cell death.

8. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is low in calories but rich in essential vitamins and minerals. One cup (36 grams) has only 7 calories but nearly a gram of fiber, a gram of protein, and plenty of manganese, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Swiss chard is also loaded with antioxidants and health-promoting plant compounds, including betalains and flavonoids. This vegetable may even help prevent damage from type 2 diabetes, although human studies are needed.

9. Beets

Beets are a vibrant and versatile root vegetable that packs fiber, folate, and manganese into every serving with very few calories. They’re also high in nitrates, which your body converts to nitric oxide, a compound that can help dilate blood vessels. The nitrates in beet juice can help lower blood pressure. In turn, this can reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, beets and their juice have been linked to improved endurance and athletic performance.

10. Asparagus

Asparagus is rich in several vitamins and minerals and is an excellent addition to any diet. Half a cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus provides 33% of the daily requirement for folate, as well as a significant amount of selenium, vitamin K, thiamin and riboflavin. Getting enough folate from foods like asparagus can protect against disease and prevent irregularities in neural tube development during pregnancy. An animal study also suggests that asparagus extract protects against liver and kidney damage by reducing oxidative stress.

11. Red cabbage

Red cabbage is another cruciferous vegetable brimming with antioxidants and beneficial properties. Just one cup (89 grams) of raw red cabbage contains 2 grams of fiber and 56% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Red cabbage is also high in anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds that contribute to its distinct color and its many benefits.
In an animal study, red cabbage extract reversed oxidative stress in rats with high cholesterol levels.

12. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes stand out for their vibrant orange color, sweetness and impressive health benefits. A medium sweet potato has about 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and a good amount of potassium, manganese, and vitamins B6 and C. This root vegetable is also high in beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. In fact, one sweet potato contains 132% of the daily value of this vitamin. In addition, the consumption of beta-carotene is linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers, including lung cancer. According to an analysis of 23 studies, sweet potatoes may be particularly effective at regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

13. Green cabbage leaves

A single cup (130 grams) of cooked collard greens contains about 6 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 25% of the Daily Value for calcium. In fact, collard greens are one of the best plant sources of calcium, a mineral that plays a key role in muscle function, nerve transmission, hormone production, and bone health. Collard greens are also high in antioxidants and may reduce the risk of certain diseases. Interestingly, some research links increased consumption of certain vegetables, including collard greens, to a lower risk of glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to blindness. Another study associated increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as collard greens, with an 8% and 19% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer, respectively.

14. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is known for its versatility and excellent nutritional profile. Just one cup (155 grams) cooked contains 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and a variety of other important nutrients, including folic acid and vitamins C and K. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is an excellent source of compounds such as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, both of which have powerful anti-cancer properties. Cauliflower is also often used as a low-carb, low-calorie alternative to ingredients like rice, potatoes, and flour. It may even promote weight loss. A 4-year study of more than 133,000 people linked each daily serving of cauliflower to 2 lbs of weight loss.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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