Vegetables hold a prominent part of the food pyramid for good reason. The group is comprised of a many foods, each providing a unique set of flavors, preparation possibilities, and most importantly health benefits.
Most vegetables are coveted for some type of health-related characteristic, but here are five of the healthiest ones on the market.
Onions can do much more than make you cry and add some kick to a recipe — these layered vegetables contain cancer-fighting antioxidants that are mostly plentiful through raw consumption. Deep frying and cooking onions at high temperatures — as they are commonly prepared — can actually reduce the vegetable’s cancer fighting potential, but their health benefits go beyond this important characteristic; they also aid in the reduction of inflammation and infection. Furthermore, onion juice has been found to reduce the pain of bee stings if applied shortly after a sting occurs.
The food most of us grew up avoiding at all costs, broccoli is actually a tasty and wholesome vegetable with many nutritional benefits. Like onions, broccoli contains cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, one study found that men who ate five or more servings of broccoli per week were less likely to develop bladder cancer later in life. To make matters better, there are numerous delicious ways to enjoy broccoli — whether you eat it raw with dip, or cooked and softened into soups, stews, and countless other warm recipes.
Spinach occasionally evokes visions of Popeye the Sailor cracking open a can of the leafy vegetable and instantly growing stronger. This recurring cartoon hyperbole is actually grounded in spinach’s very real health benefits. Spinach is loaded with vitamins C, A, and K, and it also contains a fair amount of manganese. It is also found to lower the risk for diabetes and macular degeneration.
Red beets are another vegetable containing cancer-fighting antioxidants, but they are also a top source of nitrates, which are found to improve blood pressure. They are also high in fiber and lutein, which can improve eye protection. Beet greens are very nutritious in themselves, so be sure not to dispose of the vegetables’ leafy tops.
Green peas stand as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, providing a variety of phytonutrients, or nutrients that “may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.” Many of these phytonutrients have been linked to peas’ ability to fight and defend against stomach cancer, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Peas are also found to be a “reliable source of omega-3 fats in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).”