Most people ask me “What are the most nutritious vegetables and foods to eat.” My response is always variety and whole foods, because I want you to love food and not get into the minutia of every food’s nutritional profile. However, it is fun sometimes to see how vegetables rank. Here’s a list of vegetables scoring over 200 points based on adding the percentage of recommended daily intake of lutein, carotenoids, Vitamin K and C, folate, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Top Nutritious Vegetables
|Raw romaine lettuce||339|
|Raw red leaf lettuce||303|
|Raw green leaf lettuce||298|
|Red bell pepper||238|
|Raw butter lettuce||201|
* Vegetables are cooked unless indicated as raw
Other nutritious vegetables
Although these are the most nutritious vegetables, I think the low scoring ones deserve to be on your plate too. For example, jicama might only score 46 points but are so high in fiber and vitamin C. Likewise, cucumbers score 28 points but are high in vitamin K. Green beans score 101 points but are high in lutein and vitamin K. You get the idea. We don’t have to just eat the high ranking vegetables. Even potatoes, corn, tomatoes, etc. come with lots of benefits. It would be sad if we only have a handful of vegetables to choose from so enjoy all your variety. Living in Africa for over 2 years, my vegetable was an onion. Come with gratitude that we have so many vegetables to choose from. Then we can make statements like “Health is easy! Nutrition is delicious! Weight loss is a side note.”
Here are some tips for buying, cooking, and storing vegetables.
- If you don’t like peeling hard squash shells, try eating delicate squash where you can consume the peel. This is one of my favorites. Or you can roast the squash cut in half and scoop the insides out once it’s cooked and soft.
- I like long, skinny Chinese/Japanese eggplants more. They taste better and are more tender.
- Don’t store onions with potatoes; it makes the potatoes sprout. Store them apart.
- If you can’t finish your greens, store them in the freezer. It’s great for soups and stews. A great way to reduce waste and make sure you always have greens in the house.
- Cabbage can last for weeks in the fridge. You can use them for slaw, thinly sliced in stir-fries, and big chunks in stews. They are so sweet cooked and so crunchy raw. Decide what you’re in the mood for.
- Sweet potatoes have twice as much fiber, more potassium, and more beta-carotene than white potatoes. I eat both but definitely prefer sweet potatoes and yams.
- If you don’t like the sharpness of radishes, toss them in a stew, roast them, or sauté them. It becomes sweet and mild.
- Use Butter/Bibb lettuce as a wrap. This is my favorite lettuce. I generally don’t love lettuce.
- Store mushrooms in a paper bag or open container in the fridge for longer life.
Vegetables provide lots of variety, texture, and flavors as well as help with weight lose, boosting energy, and of course packed full of nutrition. Enjoy them all. I hope these tips help you expand your repertoire and continue exploring home-cooked meals. After working together, many of my clients tell me that their home-cooked foods taste better than restaurant foods. Our palate changes and we are able add our favorite ingredients plus home cooked isn’t as oily, salty, rich, and sweet as restaurant foods or processed, convenient foods.
*Adapted from Nutrition Action Healthletter
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~ Samantha Hua, Online Nutrition Coach & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego, CA