Sunday, February 8, 2015

10 of the Most Nutritious Vegetables You Can Eat

I like this article (originally published on Wall St Cheat Sheet) I because one of my four legs of a healthy lifestyle is to "maximize the good foods and minimize the bad." Any article that can point out some of the better foods we can eat is worth reading. But the consumer will never know for sure what they are eating in today's world of GMO foods, and with vegetables losing much of their nutrient content in the picking-processing-shipping-purchase cycle. Still, best to do as well as you can in picking and eating foods. Optimally, we could eat whole foods and get all the nutrients our bodies need for optimum health. But that's not the case, so another leg of healthy lifestyle is take the best quality nutritional supplements you can get. And let's not forget the two other legs of a healthy lifestyle, a physically life (be physically active), and, avoid toxins - the worst being tobacco.

10 of the Most Nutritious Vegetables You Can Eat

We have already established that eating healthy is hard. Navigating a Whole Foods is not for the faint of heart. Which fats are bad? Which vegetables are best? Does anyone really know? Maybe, maybe not, but thanks to the Nutrition Action Healthletter, we can at least see how all the famed veggies stack up.

What do you think?

The agency responsible for the newsletter gathered nutritional info made available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, and it ranked the world’s most popular vegetables, taking into account their calories and Vitamin K, lutein, Vitamin C, Potassium, and fiber content. Some veggies were obvious superstars, racking in scores of over 1,000 points, but others didn’t fare so well, coming in with a score of 54 points, and yes, iceberg lettuce, we’re looking at you.

So just in case you’re interested to see if you’re favorite veggies make our top-ten list, check out these top nutrient powerhouses that experts are particularly impressed with. Corn, parsnips, and celery surely aren’t inspiring awe in anyone, but we bet you can guess who are.

10. Carrots

Coming up first on our list, sitting at the No. 10 spot is a vegetable that is arguably pretty easy to love: the carrot. One serving of this orange veggie is only 30 calories, and it comes packed with fiber, Vitamin K, and lutein. Lutein is a caretenoid concentrated in the retinas of your eyes, and it’s a necessary component of normal vision. It is suggested that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain lutein may also decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, so it appears as though your grandma was actually on to something. There’s a reason she told you eating carrots is good for your eyes.

9. Radicchio (raw)

Radicchio is next! Sounds like the king of the vegetables, yes? And the Nutrition Action Healthletter supports that ranking. Sometimes known as Italian chicory, two cups of this good stuff yields a whopping 20 calories and a score of 467 points on the newsletter’s rank. Radicchio also comes laden with Vitamin K and lutein, along with Vitamin C and potassium. When you’re on the hunt for radicchio in the grocery store, seek out the leaf vegetable with white-veined red leaves. Though it has a bitter and spicy taste as raw, grilling or roasting helps mellow out its flavor. Unfortunately, radicchio is only listed at No. 9 on our list in its raw form, but we won’t blame you if you wade into the radicchio waters roasting the vegetable first.

8. Sweet potato

Coming in at No. 8 is American’s favorite superfood, the sweet potato. The white potato’s healthy counterpart racks up a score of 492 points on the Nutrition Action Healthletter’s list, and it’s all thanks to the ample amount of Vitamin C one small potato with skin provides, along with potassium, fiber, vitamins, and magnesium. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there’s a reason healthy eaters love to love this naturally sweetened carbohydrate.

7. Mustard greens

But the sweet potato still isn’t healthier than seven other vegetables that reign supreme, and one of them is the mustard greens. One serving of these veggies yields just 10 calories, but its nutritional profile is worth much, much more. Mustard greens are chock full of Vitamin K, lutein, Vitamin C, and fiber. They’ve been noted on lists as the world’s healthiest foods, and just in case you’re ready to give mustard greens a try, look out for the plant that often occurs in some form in African, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and soul food cuisine.

6. Pumpkin (canned)

Continuing to make our way down the list, we come to another favorite orange veggie, because pumpkin shouldn’t only be purposed as a vehicle for your Halloween jack-o-lanterns. Rather, in its canned form, it racks up 577 points on the list highlighted on the Nutrition Action Healthletter, and there, experts praise its Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber content. Bake this baby into baked goods and pride yourself on eating one of the top six healthiest veggies.

5. Turnip greens

Back on our greens game, we come to another impressive plant, the turnip greens. Turn up for turnips. One serving of these babies comes to only 20 calories, and for that measly total, you get vitamin K, lutein, vitamin C, and fiber. Sorry, potassium, turnip greens aren’t a vehicle for you. These root vegetables go by a lot of different names, but Americans tend to either roast them, sauté them, mash them (with bacon!), or puree them into a soup. It’s your choice how you consume them, but as their score of 714 points evidences, you should definitely say yes to the turnips.

4. Swiss chard

Swiss chard comes in at the No. 4 spot, boasting an impressive score of 717 points, just slightly higher than the value of turnip greens. This leafy green vegetable is often used in Mediterranean cooking and covers all the nutrient bases, coming packed with Vitamin K, lutein, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It is also rich in minerals and protein. Healthy eaters have been chomping down on this veggie for decades now, but if you’re new to swiss chard land, sauté it or roast the chard leaves first. Cooking mellows out the bitter taste of this vegetable and yields a pleasant, albeit earthy, flavor.

3. Collard Greens

And you don’t have to be from the South to enjoy this next highlighted vegetable, although that’s where collard greens enjoy the most fanfare. These plants are known for their large, dark- colored, edible leaves, and they’re easily made into a number of popular dishes, including good old sautéed collard greens with bacon. Loaded with Vitamin K, lutein, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, there really is no reason you shouldn’t be at least trying to incorporate collard greens in some of your meal plans, especially considering one serving only yields 20 calories. C’mon now.

2. Spinach (raw)

Getting closer to the distinction of best, vegetable, ever, we come to spinach, a vegetable that many consumers have grown to love — no pun intended. In its raw form, spinach totals 968 points on the scale provided by the Nutrition Action Healthletter, and it’s no surprise, considering the green vegetable is teeming with vitamin A, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Hide spinach on your salad, in your eggs, in your smoothies, or even in your desserts, and you’ll be benefiting from its impressive nutritional profile.

1. Kale

And the greatest vegetable of them? King Kale, killing the competition with its score of 1,392 points. It’s hardly a surprise that kale takes the No. 1 distinction, considering it’s the it veggie healthy eaters love to love, but now we fully understand why. This vegetable has been around since the dark ages, but it’s now one of hottest greens that can be found on foodies’ plates, especially if it is massaged. Raw kale previously seemed almost unpalatable due to its bitter taste and unappetizing texture, but now that chefs and foodies have discovered that massaging the vegetable with olive oil and salt can break down its tough cellulose structure, healthy consumers are all about reaping the benefits of the greens packed with Vitamins A, C, and K, B6, and calcium. Case in point? Eat your kale, and like it too.

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