Vegetables are very good for your health because most vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. However, there are some vegetables that stand out from the rest since they have additional proven health benefits, like the ability to fight inflammation or reduce the risk of disease.
This article comprises some of the healthiest vegetables on earth as well as why they should be incorporated in your everyday meal.
Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables, because of its impressive nutrient profile. It is rich in antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases and some other risk factors like high blood pressure. One cup of raw spinach which is equivalent to 30 grams of raw spinach helps provide 56% of your daily vitamin A needs and the vitamin K you need for an entire day and it's just 7 calories.
A study conducted some time ago discovered that dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are high in beta-carotene and lutein. Beta-carotene and lutein are two types of antioxidants that have been said to be associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
Another study conducted in 2015 discovered that consumption of spinach may be beneficial for heart health, since it may aid lower blood pressure.
Carrots are packed with vitamin A and this means that in just one cup (128 grams) you will get 428% of the daily recommended value. Carrots are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Just like spinach, they also contain beta-carotene, and that's the antioxidant that gives carrots their vibrant orange colour and could help in the prevention of cancer.
In one study that was conducted, it was revealed that per week, for each serving of carrots, the risk of participants getting prostate cancer is decreased by 5%.
Another study conducted showed that for smokers, eating carrots may have an effect in reducing the risk of lung cancer. Compared to the smokers who ate carrots at least once a week, and the smokers who did not eat carrots, the smokers who did not eat carrots had a three times greater risk of developing lung cancer.
Broccoli is rich in glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing plant compound and sulforaphane, a by-product of glucosinolate. Sulforaphane is so important that studies have shown that it has a protective effect against cancer. Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables
In one animal study conducted, it was seen that sulforaphane was able to reduce the size and number of breast cancer cells while also blocking tumour growth in mice. This is to show that eating broccoli may help prevent other types of chronic disease.
In a 2010 animal study conducted, it was discovered that consuming broccoli sprouts could protect the heart from disease-causing oxidative stress by significantly lower levels of oxidants.
In addition to broccoli's ability to prevent disease, broccoli is also loaded with nutrients. A cup of raw broccoli which is equivalent to 91 grams provides 116% of the vitamin K your body needs daily, 135% of the vitamin C required daily, and a reasonable amount of folate, manganese and potassium.
Garlic unlike other vegetables has a long history of being used as a medicinal plant. Its roots trace all the way back to ancient China and Egypt. Allicin is the main active compound in garlic. Allicin is a plant compound that is responsible for all the health benefits garlic gives. Several studies conducted have shown that garlic can regulate blood sugar and promote the health of one's heart.
In one animal study conducted where diabetic rats were given either garlic oil or a garlic component, diallyl trisulfide. Both compounds of garlic caused a decrease in blood sugar and also improved insulin sensitivity.
Another study conducted, participants with and without heart diseases were fed garlic. The results from the study proved garlic's potency to decrease total blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol in both groups. Garlic may be useful in the prevention of cancer as well. One test-tube study demonstrated that allicin induced cell death in human liver cancer cells.
However, researchers still need to conduct further research to better understand garlic's potential anti-cancer effects.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts like broccoli are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and they contain the same health-promoting plant compounds. They also contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may be particularly effective in preventing damage to cells. It can as well help enhance detoxification.
In one animal study conducted, it was discovered that kaempferol protected against free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells and can contribute to chronic disease.
In another study conducted, it was discovered that consumption of Brussels sprouts led to a 15 - 30% increase in some of the specific enzymes that control detoxification. That could lead to a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer.
Brussels sprouts are rather nutrient-dense. In each serving of Brussel sprouts, a good amount of vitamins and minerals are provided, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium.
Kale, like other leafy greens, is well-known for its qualities in health-promotion, including its nutrient density and antioxidant content. There is a high amount of antioxidant content in kale and due to this factor, kale may as well have a benefit in promoting heart health.
A cup of raw kale which is equivalent to 67 grams of raw kale contains a high amount of B vitamins, potassium, calcium and copper. It also helps fulfil your body's entire daily requirement for vitamins A, C and K.
In a study conducted in 2008, 32 men with high cholesterol were made to drink kale juice of 150 ml daily for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, HDL cholesterol increased by 27%, LDL cholesterol decreased by 10% and antioxidant activity was increased.
Another study that was later conducted showed that blood pressure can be reduced by drinking kale juice and kale juice is also beneficial in the reduction of both blood cholesterol and blood sugar.Read More:
It is quite clear that vegetables are very essential because they not only provide vitamins and minerals but also help in fighting some diseases. Although I have listed and explained the health benefits of some vegetables, there are lots of vegetables in existence all of which have different health benefits. To take advantage of the different health benefits of vegetables, it is advisable that you incorporate one or two vegetables to your daily meal.