Eating plenty of vegetables may be one of the simplest ways to improve health and well-being.
All vegetables contain healthful vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber — but some stand out for their exceptional benefits.
Specific vegetables may offer more health advantages to certain people, depending on their diets, overall health, and nutritional needs.
In this article, we look at 15 of the most healthful vegetables and suggest ways to enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable and a great source of calcium, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.
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 7 caloriesTrusted Source. It also provides:
an adult’s full daily requirementTrusted Source of vitamin K
high amounts of vitamin A
Vitamin K is essential for a healthy body — especially for strong bones, as it improves the absorption of calcium.
Spinach also provides a good amount of iron for energy and healthy blood, and a high level of magnesium for muscle and nerve function.
It is also rich in antioxidants, and researchTrusted Source suggests that spinach leaves may lower blood pressure and benefit heart health.
If a person is taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), they should use caution when increasing their intake of dark leafy greens. Doctors recommend maintaining a consistent vitamin K intake over time for people taking these medications.
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.
Kale is a very popular leafy green vegetable products with several health benefits. It provides around 7 caloriesTrusted Source per cup of raw leaves and good amounts of vitamins A, C, and K.
Kale may benefit people with high cholesterol. One small 2008 study reports that males with high cholesterol who drank 150 milliliters of kale juice each day for 12 weeks experienced a 10% reduction in low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol and a 27% increase in high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol.
Research from 2015Trusted Source, meanwhile, suggests that kale juice can reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
If a person is taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin, they should use caution when increasing their intake of dark leafy greens. It is best to maintain a consistent vitamin K intake while taking these medications.
How to eat kale
People use baby kale in pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. A person may also enjoy kale chips or juice.
Each cup of chopped and boiled broccoli contains:
around 31 caloriesTrusted Source
the full daily requirement of vitamin K
twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin C
According to the National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source, animal research has found that certain chemicals, called indoles and isothiocyanates, in cruciferous vegetables may inhibit the development of cancer in several organs, including the bladder, breasts, liver, and stomach.
These compounds may protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate cancer-causing agents, and have anti-inflammatory effects. However, research in humans has been mixed.
How to eat broccoli
Broccoli is very versatile. People can roast it, steam it, fry it, blend it into soups, or enjoy it warm in salads.
Peas are a sweet, starchy vegetable. They contain 134 caloriesTrusted Source per cooked cup, and they are rich in:
fiber, providing 9 grams (g) per serving
protein, providing 9 g per serving
vitamins A, C, and K
certain B vitamins
Green peas are a good source of plant-based protein, which may be especially beneficial for people with vegetarian or vegan diets.
Peas and other legumes contain fiber, which supports good bacteria in the gut and helps ensure regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive tract.
They are also rich in saponins, plant compounds that may help protect againstTrusted Source oxidative stress and cancer.
How to eat peas
It might be handy to keep a bag of peas in the freezer and gradually use them to boost the nutritional profiles of pasta dishes, risottos, and curries. A person might also enjoy a refreshing pea and mint soup.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables. Baked in its skin, a medium sweet potato provides 103 caloriesTrusted Source and 0.17 g of fat.
Each sweet potato also contains:
much more than an adult’s daily requirement of vitamin A
25% of their vitamin C and B6 requirements
12% of their potassium requirement
beta carotene, which may improve eye health and help fight cancer
Sweet potatoes may be a good option for people with diabetes. This is because they are low on the glycemic index and rich in fiber, so they may help regulate blood sugar.
How to eat sweet potatoes
For a simple meal, bake a sweet potato in its skin and serve it with a source of protein, such as fish or tofu.