Health experts have always insisted that we need to eat vegetables if we want to have a real healthy diet, and with many yummy vegetable gardens popping up after spring plantings, there are five key veggies at the top of the list as the healthiest:
*Spinach -- Popeye was right. Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, calcium, potassium and Vitamin B6. It's also a good source of fiber, copper, protein, phosphorous, zinc, Vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, niacin and anti-oxidants.
*Lettuce (greenleaf, red leaf, romaine) -- Lettuce is a low calorie fiber food that is also a great place to find Vitamin A, folic acid, lactucarium (which helps enhance calmness and pain relief), as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Lettuce also contains a good amount of anti-cancer properties.
*Broccoli -- Besides having great flavor and texture, Broccoli contains copious amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta carotene and Vitamin K. The minerals in broccoli include calcium, potassium, iron and folate. A great source of fiber, broccoli also provides lots of bioflavonoids, which is an antioxidant that helps protect against cancer and heart disease.
*Brussels Sprouts -- A staple in the diets of Asian cultures, who are among the longest lived people in the world, the crunchy garnish contains lots of potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta carotene and Vitamin K. This is another great anti-cancer vegetable.
*Cabbage -- Although best known as the partner of corned beef on St. Patrick's Day, cabbage is a great low calorie food that contains a good amount of fiber, calcium and Vitamin C. Cabbage is incredibly packed with substantial anti-cancer agents.
When picking vegetables, the fresh and frozen vegetables are better than canned vegetables, because they have less added salt. If you have to buy canned vegetables, it is recommended draining the water they are packed in before preparing them to remove a good amount of the added sodium, or simply buy those veggies labeled as having low sodium.
Broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts also contain glucosinolates, which are known for their chemoprotective agents against chemically-induced carcinogens by blocking the initiation of tumors.
For a healthier you, it's just plain good sense to learn to love and eat your vegetables on a daily basis.