When it comes to veggies, many people make the mistake of thinking they’re all equally nutritious. While reaching for any veggie is so much better than going for a heavily processed or sugary snack, some vegetables are much better at nourishing your body than others. Think of them as the superheroes of the vegetable world.
Through my personal studies, I’ve learned which vegetables go above and beyond to nourish the human body. Based on my research, I’m excited to present you with a list of my favorite nutrient-dense veggies and their benefits.
I tricked you, didn’t I? I bet you expected to see kale featured at the top of my list. While kale is incredibly healthy (which is why it does earn a place on my list), I put watercress at the top because its benefits as an emerging superfood are impressive.
Watercress is an ancient green that is a member of the cruciferous family. It may have been an important part of Roman soldiers’ diets way back in the day. But what makes it so special? I’m glad you asked. According to a 2019 review, there is a compound called 3,3’-diindolylmethane in watercress that has protective effects against cancer. This lovely leafy green plant also contains alpha-lipoic acid, which can increase insulin sensitivity and lower glucose levels (translation: it is great for treating and preventing diabetes!)
You’ll also find loads of nutrients in a single cup of watercress, including vitamin K, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and many others. In short, this unassuming plant can boost your help and assist you in avoiding disease.
It may smell bad when cooked, but broccoli is one of my favorite nutrient-dense veggies of all time. I don’t typically eat it raw because I don’t like broccoli burps very much (neither does anyone around me!) but I love to steam it and sprinkle a little sea salt on it for a snack.
Just one cup of broccoli gives you 90% of the DV for vitamin C, 77% of the DV for vitamin K, and many other nutrients. It also contains sulforaphane, which is a compound that may help protect you against cancer.
Give me raw carrots, steamed carrots, mashed carrots or carrot juice and I’ll enjoy every last bit of it! Carrots are one of the best-tasting nutrient-dense veggies in my humble opinion. They are jam-packed with vitamin A and may lower your risk of colorectal cancer according to one study.
Carrots are very high in beta carotene, which your body uses to create vitamin A. They also include many other nutrients to stave off disease states, such as vitamins C and K.
Everybody in the fitness community seems to rave about kale, so you may be sick of hearing about it by now. But there’s a good reason why kale gets so much attention. This leafy green is practically bursting with copper, potassium, calcium, and a variety of vitamins. Studies show that eating kale may help you support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If you don’t like the way it tastes, mask its flavor in a soup, salad or smoothie.
I hope I don’t make any enemies here, but Brussels sprouts round out my list of favorite nutrient-dense veggies. The key to enjoying their exceptional nutritional benefits without gagging is to make sure you cook them correctly. Try roasting them with salt and pepper if you don’t like the slimy, wilted texture they sometimes take on when boiled.
Brussels sprouts contain kaempferol, which is an antioxidant that can help prevent chronic disease and protect your cells from damage. They’re also rich in fiber and various vitamins and minerals.
If you really want to take your health to the next level, keep these vegetables on rotation in your weekly meal plans. Your body will thank you!