Eating plenty of vegetables is one of the easiest ways for people to improve their health and well-being.
All vegetables contain healthful vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, some stand out for their exceptional health benefits.
Some individuals benefit more from certain vegetables than others, depending on their diet, overall health, and nutritional needs.
In this article, we list 15 of the most healthful vegetables, along with some tips to help people enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.
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
- an adult's full daily requirements for vitamin K
- high amounts of vitamin A
- vitamin C
Vitamin K is essential for a healthy body, and especially so for strong bones. It improves how well the body absorbs calcium.
Spinach also provides a good amount of iron for energy and healthy blood, and a good level of magnesium for muscle and nerve function.
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.
- a 10 percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol
- a 27 percent increase in high-density lipoprotein, or "good," cholesterol
How to eat kale
People use baby kale in pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. Also, try making kale chips, or juice kale for its heart-healthy benefits.
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
- 55 calories
- the full daily requirement for vitamin K
- twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C
Eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer, which may be because these vegetables
How to eat broccoli
Broccoli is very versatile. People roast it, steam it, or fry it. Also, some people blend it into soups or eat it warm in salads.
Peas are sweet, starchy vegetables that provide
- fiber, at 9 grams per serving
- protein, at 9 grams per serving
- vitamins A, C, and K
- certain B vitamins
Green peas are a good source of plant-based protein, and eating them is an effective way for vegetarian and vegan people to boost their protein intake.
Peas and other legumes contain fiber, which supports good bacteria in the gut to ensure regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive tract.
They are also rich in saponins, which are plant compounds that
How to eat peas
It can be easy to keep a bag of peas in the freezer and eventually use it to boost the nutritional profile of pasta dishes, risottos, and vegetable curries. Or, a person can make a refreshing pea and mint soup.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that
Each potato also contains:
- much more than an adult's daily requirement of vitamin A
- 25 percent of their vitamin C and B-6 requirements
- 12 percent of their potassium needs
- beta-carotene, which may improve eye health and fight cancer
Sweet potatoes may benefit people with diabetes. This is because they are low on the glycemic index scale and high in fiber, so they may help regulate blood sugar.
How to eat sweet potatoes
The easiest way to enjoy a sweet potato is to bake it in its skin and serve it with a source of protein, such as fish or tofu.
One cup of beets
- 442 milligrams of potassium
- 148 micrograms of folate
Beets and beetroot juice are great for improving heart health.
This vegetable is high in heart-healthy nitrates. A small-scale
How to eat beets
Roasting beets brings out their natural sweetness, but they also taste great in salads, sandwiches, and juices.
Each cup of chopped carrots
Vitamin A is vital for healthy eyesight, and getting enough of this nutrient may help prevent vision loss.
How to eat carrots
Carrots are an extremely versatile vegetable. They work well in casseroles and soups, and they provide great health benefits when eaten raw with a dip such as hummus.
8. Fermented vegetables
Fermented, or pickled, vegetables provide all the nutrients of their unfermented counterparts, as well as a healthy dose 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 Health, probiotics
Some good vegetables for fermentation include:
- cabbage, to make sauerkraut
- cucumbers, to make pickles
How to eat fermented vegetables
People eat fermented vegetables in salads and sandwiches, or as a side dish.
Although tomatoes are technically a fruit, most people treat them as a vegetable. Each cup of chopped raw tomatoes
- 32 calories
- 427 milligrams of potassium
- 24.7 milligrams of vitamin C
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that may play a role in cancer prevention.
Other potent antioxidants in tomatoes, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, may protect vision. The
How to eat tomatoes
People can eat tomatoes raw, but cooking them releases more lycopene.
Garlic has long been used in both cooking and medicine. Each garlic clove
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. A compound in garlic, called diallyl sulfide,
How to eat garlic
Heating garlic reduces its health benefits, so it is best to eat garlic raw in bruschetta and dips.
- 64 calories
- vitamin C
- vitamin B-6
Onions and other allium vegetables, including garlic, contain sulfur compounds. These
How to eat onions
It is easiest to include onions in meals such as soups, stews, stir-fries, and curries. For maximum antioxidant effects, eat them raw in sandwiches, salads, and dips such as guacamole.
12. Alfalfa sprouts
Each cup of alfalfa sprouts
These sprouts also boast several plant compounds that contribute to good health, including:
Traditionally, specialists use alfalfa sprouts to treat a range of health conditions, such as arthritis and kidney problems. However, researchers have conducted few studies into their effectiveness for these conditions.
Eating sprouted legumes may have extra health benefits.
How to eat alfalfa sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts are best enjoyed in salads and sandwiches.
13. Bell peppers
Sweet bell peppers are commonly available in red, yellow, or orange varieties. Unripe, green peppers are also popular, but these taste less sweet than other colors.
A cup of chopped red bell peppers
- 39 calories
- 190 milligrams of vitamin C
- 0.434 milligrams of vitamin B-6
- beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A
Antioxidants present in bell peppers include capsanthin, quercetin, and lutein (in the green variety), which protects vision.
How to eat bell peppers
Bell peppers are extremely versatile. Add them to spaghetti dishes, scrambled eggs, or sandwiches, or serve them raw with a guacamole or hummus dip.
One cup of chopped cauliflower
- 27 calories
- plenty of vitamin C
- vitamin K
Dietary fiber boosts a person's heart and gut health, preventing digestive issues and reducing obesity.
Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain an antioxidant called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C
Much like broccoli, cauliflower contains another potential anticancer compound: sulforaphane.
How to eat cauliflower
Pulse raw cauliflower in a blender to make cauliflower rice or turn it into a pizza base for a low-calorie, comforting treat. Alternatively, people may enjoy cauliflower in curries, or they may bake it with olive oil and garlic.
Seaweed, also known as sea vegetables, are versatile and nutritious plants that provide several health benefits. Common types of seaweed include:
- sea lettuce
Seaweed is one of the few plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. These fatty acids are essential for a person's health and are mostly present in meat and dairy sources.
Each type of seaweed has a slightly different nutritional profile, but it is typically rich in iodine, which is an essential nutrient for thyroid function.
Eating a variety of sea vegetables provides people with several important antioxidants to reduce damage to the body's cells. Many types of seaweed contain chlorophyll, which is a plant pigment that has
Brown sea vegetables, such as kelp and wakame, contain another potent antioxidant called fucoxanthin.
How to eat seaweed
Where possible, choose organic seaweed and eat it in small amounts to avoid introducing excess iodine to the diet. 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 the most vegetables 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.