Vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet. They contain dozens of key nutrients and contain loads of dietary fibre. And just by getting your daily quota of five to nine servings, you help build your body’s immunity to things like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So what are the healthiest veggies you should be eating to boost your disease-fighting potential? Here’s the lowdown.
Though technically a fruit, tomatoes are most often served like a vegetable. Full of lycopene, these beautiful red orbs (and all tomato-based products) are renowned for their cancer-fighting capabilities. Not only are they chock full of vitamin-y goodness (from A to K), but they also keep our blood pressure in check and help to reduce the number of free radicals in our bodies.
How to eat them: Tomato and goat cheese spaghetti >>
Few foods measure up to the disease-fighting potential of broccoli. This cruciferous veg is packed with antioxidants that help reduce the risk of stomach, lung and rectal cancers. And because broccoli is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate, it is also good at boosting your immunity to colds and flus.
How to eat it: Garlic broccoli and cauliflower >>
These little green veggies are especially important for pregnant woman because they’re packed with folic acid, a B vitamin that prevents neural tube defects. Brussels sprouts are also packed with vitamins C and K as well as fibre, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.
How to eat them: Vegetable pesto pasta >>
These orange wonders are loaded with eye-, skin- and hair-enriching nutrients. They’re also the richest vegetable source of some important antioxidants, like vitamin A. And because they’re loaded with vitamin C, carrots protect your cardiovascular system from damage.
How to eat them: Creamy carrot soup >>
A good source of anti-inflammatory nutrients, like vitamin C and beta-carotene, squash — especially summer squash — can help treat dozens of conditions, including asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Squash is also rich in potassium, magnesium and fibre.
How to eat it: Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter sauce >>
This root vegetable has dozens of anti-cancer nutrients, like vitamin A, C and manganese. They’re also a good source of fibre and iron, so not only do they give you energy, but they can also help regulate your digestive system.
How to eat them: Sweet potato and quinoa hash >>
High in heart-healthy nutrients, eggplants are rich in antioxidants like nasunin (a unique compound that protects your brain cells from damage). And because eggplants are loaded with fibre and potassium, researchers believe they may reduce your risk of stroke and dementia.
How to eat it: Delicious eggplant dip >>
Whether you prefer red, orange or yellow, bell peppers are packed with dozens of heart-healthy nutrients like lycopene and folic acid. And recent research suggests that digging into a pepper every day might lower your risk of developing lung, colon, bladder and pancreatic cancers.
How to eat them: Feta and red pepper dip >>
This chlorophyll-packed type of produce is an excellent source of almost every vitamin and nutrient you need. Scientists believe a diet heavy in spinach might prevent everything from heart disease to colon cancer to arthritis and osteoporosis.
How to eat it: Spinach and bacon stuffed mushrooms >>
These pungent veggies are particularly good for people suffering from (or at risk of developing) osteoporosis. That’s because onions are loaded with a peptide called GPCS, which scientists believe slows your body’s loss of calcium. Onions may also be useful in fighting off heart disease and diabetes because they’re loaded with vitamin C and folate.